Picks and Pans Review: Baby's Day Out

updated 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Joe Mantegna, Lara Flynn Boyle

Screenwriter, producer and sometime director John Hughes will be doing comedies inside the womb next. As the self-appointed Boswell of America's brats, he has steadily been sliding down the age scale in his movies, focusing on teenagers in Sixteen Candles (1984) and The Breakfast Club (1985), moving next to preteens with Home Alone (1990) and Dennis the Menace (1993), and now cruising with the crawlers.

His premise here is simple: A trio of latter-day Stooges kidnap a wealthy couple's baby—you can tell the kid is rich by his monogrammed diapers—and hold him for ransom. "That little do-do machine is my retirement money," the group's leader (Mantegna, in a slyly hammy performance) announces. The baby escapes, of course, and the kidnappers must pursue him all over the big city. That the baby will come to no harm is a given; that the kidnappers will come to much harm, albeit all of it broadly comic (slipping on baby drool, getting punched by a fat lady, tangling with a gorilla at the zoo) and none of it permanent, is how Baby's Day comes by the major share of its many low-comedy laughs.

As the kid's parents, Boyle and Matthew Glave have little to do but look worried. The baby, played with winning gurgles by the highly photogenic Worton twins (Jacob and Adam), is cute. So is the movie. Kids will love it, and accompanying parents will instantly be transported back to fondly remembered afternoons spent in the intellectually uplifting company of Larry, Moe and Curly. (PG)

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