Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Froemming picked “Look Who’s Talking.”
The Movie: “Look Who’s Talking”
Starring: John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Olympia Dukakis
Director: Amy Heckerling
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) After a single, career-minded woman is left on her own to give birth to the child of a married man, she finds a new romantic chance in a cab driver. Meanwhile, the point-of-view of the newborn boy is narrated through voice-over.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 56 percent
Froemming: Last week, Brown and I soared to come cinematic heights with “Birdman,” a meditation on an actor coming to terms with his blockbuster past, luke warm present and possible artistically fulfilling future.
So, I decided this week that Brown and I need to visit an actor who has gone through all three of those phases. An actor who became a superstar in the ’70s, fell in love with a mechanical bull in the early ’80s and hit some career lows before rising like a Phoenix in the ’90s.
I am talking about, of course, John (REDACTED) Travolta.
I decided to visit his career at, let’s say, not its best. I decided on “Look Who’s Talking,” a movie that breathed some life into the JOE-DOWN’s favorite punching bag for a brief moment in the late ’80s.
This movie also works as a bizarre prequel story (in my mind) to Butch and Vincent Vega in “Pulp Fiction,” but we will discuss that in the review.
Brown, as I ponder why Bruce Willis currently looks like the wrinkled, bald baby in this movie, why don’t you give us your first thoughts?
Brown: My first thought is that this piece of shit movie nearly made $300 million.
AND, I just found out before we did this review that my sports editor’s first date with his ex-wife was “Look Who’s Talking.” Because a good idea for a first date movie is one where the opening scene is sperm swimming toward an egg.
I liked that Tom Elliott told me that factoid so I can claim there is a worse movie to bring a date to than when I brought my first real crush to “Kung Pow! Enter the Fist.”
As far as any personal memories of this flick, I do remember watching it and the sequel at home growing up in the suburbs. I did remember the talking sperm bits and not understanding the context that it was a married man having an affair with his accountant.
… This movie — predictably, because Travolta said yes to this — is chock-full of garbage people.
Froemming, get us started while I try to find a new nursing home for Abe Vigoda.
Froemming: Well, this starts off like you say, with Mollie and her client Albert having an affair in his office to which we see talking sperm land right into an egg and I was immediately horrified to remember I saw this as a kid with my mom.
More horrifying than that was seeing Pops from “The Goldbergs” as a younger man, I figured he was like Kurtwood Smith and came out of the womb as a 60-year-old man.
Anywho, we see that the sperm that made it to the egg will one day learn his dad carried an uncomfortable hunk of metal in his ass during the Vietnam War. Because these fantasies were the only thing that made this movie watchable to me.
Brown: Question: Does the moment of watching a sperm enter the egg count as a mainstream example of full penetration?
Froemming: If you are Amy Coney Barrett? Probably.
Brown: Anyway, from the onset, we see that Albert is a human disaster. He runs some company with a frightening baby mascot. Mollie is his mistress. He’s clearly been claiming he was leaving his wife (and their two kids) for quite some time now.
And somehow, he may not be the worst male character in this movie. We’ll get into it.
We also see Mollie go through all these different stages of pregnancy: morning sickness; weight gain; the fetus blinking.
… Yeah, this movie does a bunch of scenes where we see the fetus and it is more frightening than anything we’ve ever watched for Halloween Month. It’s somehow more nightmare-ish than anything H.R. Giger did for the “Alien” franchise.
Froemming: To keep this under wraps, Mollie tells everyone she was artificially inseminated, to which we are greeted with 1980s homophobic jokes because it was a lousy decade. She even tells this to her parents, which I mean, is a weird thing to lie to your folks about.
Though I will say, the only character in this movie I related to was her dad, who does not pay attention to anything going on, which made me envious of the man. Because I was not allowed such happiness as the viewer.
Brown: Like Mollie’s dad, do you have a subscription to Journal of Accountancy?
Froemming: What is a subscription?
Anyway, one day while shopping with her friend, Mollie sees Albert boning some woman in a dressing room. In Manhattan. One of the largest cities in the world. And I am to believe he was getting away with this?
Brown: The woman was the interior decorator we saw minutes earlier in another scene.
Froemming: Quit trying to make me remember random people in this (REDACTED) movie! It could have been anyone, her being an interior decorator added nothing to the plot.
Brown: You’re not wrong.
So after finding out a guy who’s cheating on his wife is doing so with multiple women, Mollie storms off and breaks things off with Albert. I mean, good on you for discovering he was a sleazeball after he put a baby in you while still married but hey, better late than never.
Froemming: Well, she is so upset that Mollie goes right into labor, leading me to believe this movie may not know how pregnancy works. And Mollie grabs a cab.
Driven by the most deranged cab driver I have seen since Travis Bickle: James Ubriacco.
Brown: If you thought he was a bad taxi driver, you should have seen how he picked up women back in Texas.
Real Bundy-like, this one.
Froemming: We should rewatch “Urban Cowboy” sometime. I feel we missed a lot the first time around.
Anyway, this maniac damn near murders this pregnant woman about to give birth with some of the most reckless driving I have seen since “The Blues Brothers.”
Brown: Also, we get more un-PC ‘80s commentary. Mollie once again drops the lie about her being artificially inseminated. James’ response: “What are you, a lesbo?”
PEOPLE. OTHER. THAN. LESBIANS. GO. TO. SPERM. BANKS.
*Deep sigh* … (REDACTED) you, movie.
Froemming: So, James not only drops her off, he walks with her into the ER, which was shocking because this is the first time I have seen Travolta do a responsible thing in any of the movies of his we have watched, which is a shocking amount.
He then set my burgeoning panic attack at ease with his classic toxic behavior by posing as a doctor and putting himself in this poor woman’s hospital room, where he has no right being in.
James forces his way into her life much like how George Costanza scores a second or third date.
Brown: One of James’ “charming” traits is how he is always looking for free stuff. He seems to fall into this faking the dad/faking a doctor bit well enough to the point that I absolutely think he’s taken oxycontin from hospitals a time or two.
Froemming: Are you saying, with his scams…
So Mikey is born and is voiced by Bruce Willis, which has its moments at times because, let’s face it, this is peak Willis and the man was even charismatic in voice over work here. Though, because the voice is of a grown man and we at times get adult jokes from him, I was also often very creeped out by that.
This movie creeped me out on all fronts. It is a creepy (REDACTED) movie. And there are two more sequels for us to watch.
Brown: And it’s not just Mikey that talks. ALL the babies talk. It’s a novelty that wears pretty thin pretty quickly. The only one that really got a laugh from me was one of the babies saying he didn’t think he’d be reincarnated that fast.
Anyways, Mollie and Mikey are giving it a go alone. But who’s there to constantly harass this single mother trying to make it in the big city? (REDACTED) Tony Monero.
And not only does he barge into Mollie’s apartment like a wayyyyy less charming Kramer, he (without her consent) claims Mollie’s address as his own to help his grandfather move into a higher quality nursing home.
Ok, so him bringing her her purse to her home was red flag No. 1. Him having his mail sent to her apartment is red flag No. 2.
The first red flag should have been enough.
But no, he talks his way into becoming Mikey’s babysitter as payment for using her apartment for fraud. To both the retirement community and the United States Postal Service.
And this movie has the (REDACTED) balls, after all this, to give us a reference to Saturday Night Fever! That’s right, “Staying Alive” plays as James struts and rolls Mikey down the street.
Is…is this a sequel to “Staying Alive?” The dark third chapter of the life of Tony Monero?
Brown: I’d be recommending this movie if we had Mikey reenact “Satan’s Alley” from “Staying Alive.” Alas, we don’t get that.
Speaking of “Saturday Night Fever,” there’s a part at the end when James is giving advice to Mikey and mentions “If you have a friend that jumped off a bridge, would you do it?”
Leave the meta references to “Community,” movie!
Froemming: So, we get a year of Mollie turning down dates while James connects to Mikey. And, I imagine, during this year Travolta talked Kirstie Alley into joining the Church of Scientology. It was quite the time.
Brown: Meanwhile, in that year’s time, I’m sure Kirstie Alley talked Travolta into the political promise of that New York City real estate developer with the bizarre hair.
Kirstie Alley also compared Trump getting booted from Twitter to slavery. So, you know, fuck Kirstie Alley.
Froemming: Alcohol and the writings of L. Ron Hubbard sure did a number on her.
Anyway, James is connecting well with Mikey, though we all know how this father-son relationship will eventually end:
Mollie, meanwhile, is trying to find the right man to be a father to Mikey, and goes on a date with a fellow CPA.
Brown: Whoa whoa whoa… we have something before date night to address first: The time when James (REDACTED) abducts Mikey.
Froemming: Mikey’s mother is Kirstie Alley, he was doomed from birth. And yes, James brings the child to an air hangar because we get some back story that he wants to be a pilot, which I am guessing Travolta demanded to be in the script since he likes to fly planes in real life.
Brown: He also brings Mikey to see his grandpa (played by Abe Vigoda).
And he does all of this WITHOUT PUTTING MIKEY IN A CAR SEAT!
Froemming: See my note above on who is Mikey’s mother.
Also, since Mollie calls the cops, this movie is a damning indictment of the capability of the NYPD. James shows up with the child and is rightfully smacked around.
Brown: I thought Mollie would be within her legal right to shoot James in the head like Frank shoots Tango in “American Gangster.”
OK, now back to this disastrous date between Mollie and Barney from “Parks and Rec.” And right away, we know this isn’t going to work when the date starts yelling at Mikey for changing the channel on a football game. James, because he’s a terrible bro, tells the date that Mollie hates when dates pay for things and open doors for her like some blood-sucking feminist.
The ‘80s were truly terrible. Predictably, so was this date.
All the while, James is watching Mikey in a suit and tie and, swear to God, he looks like a young Vincent Vega. Thank god Mikey didn’t find the heroin in James’ suit jacket.
Froemming: Mollie rewards this behavior by agreeing to meet James’ grandfather at his new retirement community and to go on a flying date with him. It is here she learns that he scams his way through life, one free meal at a bank at a time. Which she finds cute until, well, while they start fooling around she has a vision of what her life would be like with him.
This vision felt like it was an actual sequel to “Staying Alive,” where we all imagined Tony would be in his 40s. Dumpster diving for lettuce.
Brown: She basically envisions their lives together like James is Andrew “Dice” Clay, which, honestly, isn’t far from the truth.
My question to you, Froemming: Think this is the first time they fooled around? This movie is weird about their relationship through the first half and I find it hard to believe that James babysat this kid for nearly a year, had feelings for the mom and NEVER acted on it. I mean, since he started coming around, that kid has teeth and can walk. Either he’s wasting a lot of time or they were porkin’ long before this.
Froemming: It’s funny you bring this up, because I don’t give a shit.
Brown: That is the correct answer.
Froemming: Anyway, she pushes him off her and kicks him out of her apartment. Which is a solid rejection. And, frankly, should be the end of James in this movie.
But it is not. Because he still comes around to visit a toddler that isn’t even his. Which, typing that out, makes this all the more creepy.
Brown: Mollie, I get it. Raising a child alone seems hellish. But apparently your choices are:
- A middle-aged WASP who is having multiple affairs and is going through a “selfish phase,” OR
- Well, Space Ghost says it better than me.
For your sake, Mollie, stay single for a while.
However, that doesn’t happen because Albert reenters the fray after Mollie’s boss demands she work Albert’s accounts. Eventually, Albert charms Mollie enough to let him come over to see Mikey.
Only no one told James, who is over watching the kid.
Wait… didn’t you get shot down, dude? Have some self respect and …
Froemming: Travolta roughs Albert up almost as badly as he did to Debra Winger in “Urban Cowboy,” and when Mollie comes home and sees everything by her door smashed like a fight broke out, she doesn’t seem to care all that much.
And then we get classic, toxic masculinity Travolta, yelling at a woman about the father of her child (none of his business) and saying she lied to him about it (which, again, was never any of his business) and this is almost their fallout (it should have been, he is like a Qanon person: Mad for no reason). And yet, he comes by AGAIN to say farewell to Mikey, who even though we hear talk, in reality would have no idea what is going on. But Mollie hears him talk about life lessons like his father had hired J. Walter Weatherman and she finds it cute or whatever.
Also, Mikey learned about daddies from the other talking babies at a park. That scene was just way too creepy for me.
Brown: Mollie should have told James to put an egg in his shoe and beat it when he dropped a hard R-word in front of Mikey while doing the “father-to-son” talk.
Once again, the JOE-DOWN would like to remind everyone the ‘80s was a garbage decade.
Speaking of garbage, Mollie takes Mikey to meet his daddy, Albert. In a clearly-not-safe-for-children office of a sex addict.
Here, Albert tells Mollie that he’s in love with another woman and he won’t be getting back together with Mollie. My reaction:
Mollie and Mikey trash his office in disgust. And speaking of trash, Mollie has to get involved in James’ affairs again when the nursing home calls.
Froemming: Question: Do you think this is where Michael sent Sal Tessio in “The Godfather?” To a retirement community where he is mocked every day with smeared chocolate on his face? Because I think it is a possibility, and far more cruel than being whacked.
Brown: I think this is what happened. Having John Travolta as your grandson and, apparently, main caretaker is a fate worse than death.
Anyways, thanks to that fraud the two pulled earlier, Mollie gets called to the retirement home, where Grandpa is on the verge of being kicked out for *checks Wikipedia* being a disruptive influence?
What the (REDACTED) world is this? Did he bring rock ‘n roll to the retirement home like a sadder “Footloose?”
It doesn’t matter, because none of this matters, because Mollie talks the home into letting grandpa stay there.
And because dumpster fires eventually have to burn out, we’ll get to the ending, where a child ends up in the middle of New York City traffic.
Froemming: Yeah, Mikey sneaks out of the retirement community and hops a ride in a car being towed. Gotta watch out for hop-ons. We get Travolta driving like a maniac, which is par for his films:
We then see Mikey is now standing in traffic in downtown Manhattan, where he survives but, based on some of these accidents, I am pretty sure some people were cut down in their prime due to the negligence of Mollie and James.
Brown: Don’t worry, it all ends happily ever after when Mikey calls James DaDa. James and Mollie kiss and we see sperm, once again, swim toward another one of Mollie’s eggs.
The moral of this movie: Wrap that shit up! Because if you don’t, you get a scene in the credits where your next child’s inner dialogue is Joan Rivers. In the sequel, she’ll be voiced by Roseanne Barr.
Wow, Joan Rivers or Roseanne Barr. What a Sophie’s choice…
Froemming, let’s get to recommendations before Travolta kills us with his cab.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: It’s not the greatest. It is a harmless ’80s flick with toxic characters, par for the course with a Travolta movie. I would say it is not for me.
Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down: