Look Who’s Talking (1989): Amy Heckerling’s Romantic Comedy, starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley

From Our Vaults:

Amy Heckerling wrote and directed Look Who’s Talking a romantic comedy, starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley.

Bruce Willis plays the voice of Mollie’s son, Mikey.

The film features George Segal as Albert, the father of Mikey.

Mollie, an accountant living in New York City, has an affair with and gets pregnant by Albert, a womanizing executive who is married with children.

During her pregnancy, Mollie and Albert keep their indiscretion secret, under the idea she was artificially inseminated, and that Albert plans to leave his wife Beth and their children named to be with her.

The baby, while growing inside Mollie, begins to make voice-over commentary and demands – like tugging on his umbilical cord and requesting apple juice, which she gulps down.

In her ninth month, while out shopping, Mollie and her friend Rona catch Albert fooling around, and he admits he is planning on living with her after his divorce is finalized.

Mollie leaves upset, the heartbreak and stress causing her to go into labor. She gets into a cab where the driver, James Ubriacco, recklessly speeds through downtown traffic in order to get her to the hospital on time, and he is inadvertently a witness to her son Mikey’s birth. Mikey then begins to make commentary on his life and interacts with things through an inner voice which can also communicate with other babies.

Hoping to get her life back on track, Mollie becomes a dedicated single mother; refusing to be superficial about hopeful fathers, but rejecting several men over small quirks; like horribly mistreating waitstaff; that may reflect badly upon Mikey in the future. She meets James again at her apartment building and discovers he used her mailing address to set up residency in order to get his grandfather Vincent into a nice care home. She agrees to continue the ruse when he agrees to babysit Mikey (who really likes James since they first met), which almost comes to a halt when he takes the baby out to the airport, where he is a part time commercial pilot, while she is taking a nap (leading her to believe he had kidnapped Mikey).

A year passes, and James realizes his feelings for Mollie, which causes him to start sabotaging one of her dates. She soon realizes the bond he and Mikey share and decides to give him a chance. After a visit to James’ grandfather at his new home, James takes her for flying lessons and she realizes she’s falling for him, but when they become intimate, she imagines their life together and resists. James tells Mollie that he loves her, but she says she only wants what is best for Mikey, that rushing into things is how she got into trouble, and kicks him out.

Back at work, Mollie is forced by her boss to continue to work with Albert, who insists upon seeing Mikey and she agrees. But when Albert visits, he meets James and the two get into an argument, the secret upsetting James. He asks Mollie if she loves Albert and she claims she does not know. When he suggests the idea of being the closest thing to a father Mikey has, Mollie tells him that he is like a big kid and is not responsible enough to be a father. James calls her out for using Mikey to push men away including himself and he storms out. At the playground, Mikey is told by his friends what “daddies” are, and he realizes he wants James to be his father.

James comes to the apartment and tells Mikey that he will not be around any more, and Mollie listens over the baby monitor as he pours his heart out to Mikey, who admits he will miss James, too. Mollie takes Mikey to Albert’s office to meet him, but when Albert admits he does not want the responsibility of being a father because he’s going through a “selfish phase”, Mollie realizes he has not changed and she and Mikey ruin several pieces of his furniture before storming out and putting Albert out of their lives for good.

A call from Vincent’s home, telling her that he is a disruptive influence and abusive to the staff, makes her rush over to clear up the error, managing to convince them to keep Vincent as he was given a chocolate stash that James had earlier instructed an orderly (who did not speak English) not to let him have, or it would cause these outbursts.

Mikey wanders off on his own, searching for James when he sees a taxi cab outside.  He gets into a car which then gets towed away with Mikey inside it, while Mollie and James search frantically for him. After spotting him, James and Mollie give chase in his cab and eventually cut off the tow truck, but discover Mikey had gotten out of the car and is now standing in the middle of heavy traffic. James and Mollie run to reach him and take him to safety, where Mikey unofficially asks James to be his father by saying his first word “Da-da.”

With Mikey already seeing James as his father, they decide to give it a chance, kissing passionately, while Mikey considers telling them he needs a new diaper, before deciding to wait.

Cute Ending?

Nine months later, Mollie gives birth to her and James’ daughter Julie. When Mikey greets his half sister, she “tells” him, in the voice of Joan Rivers, she’s had a day he would not believe. “Can we talk?”

Commercial Hit

Look Who’s Talking was a surprise hit, opening at number one in the US with $12,107,784 in its opening weekend and staying at number one for five weekends with grosses over $10 million each weekend. It eventually grossed $140,088,813 domestically and a worldwide total of $296,999,813, making it Travolta’s most successful film since Grease, and the fourth highest-grossing movie of 1989.

Impact: Sequels

The film spawned two sequels: Look Who’s Talking Too (1990) and Look Who’s Talking Now (1993).

The success of the first two films also inspired an ABC sitcom called Baby Talk, which aired from 1991 to 1992, and featured Tony Danza as the voice of “Baby Mickey.”

John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, and Olympia Dukakis are the only actors to appear in all three films in the series.

John Travolta as James Ubriacco
Kirstie Alley as Mollie Jensen
George Segal as Albert
Olympia Dukakis as Rosie
Twink Caplan as Rona
Joy Boushel as Melissa
Abe Vigoda as Grandpa Vincent Ubriacco
Christopher Aydon as Mikey (age 2 years)
Jacob Haines as Mikey (age 1 year)
Jaryd Waterhouse as Mikey (4 months)
Jason Schaller as Mikey (fetus-newborn)


Bruce Willis as the voice of Mikey
Joan Rivers as the voice of Julie (pseudonym of “Baby Guess”)