Baby Boom (1987): Romantic Comedy Starring Diane Keaton and Sam Shepard

A quintessentially yuppie romantic comedy of the 1980s, Baby Boom, directed by Charles Shyer and co-written by him and his then wife, Nancy Meyers, stars Diane Keaton and Sam Shepard.

Keaton plays J. C. Wiatt, a New York career woman (nicknamed the “Tiger Lady”) with no time for romance or leisure; the narrator says she works “five to nine.”

She is employed as a management consultant and lives with an investment banker, Steven Buchner (Harold Ramis), whose job is also demanding

Her life is thrown into turmoil when she inherits a toddler, Elizabeth from a deceased cousin whom she had not seen in decades.

At first, J.C. tries to give Elizabeth up for adoption, only to realize that she is too attached to the child, changing her priorities. She explains to Steven that a lot of working people raise kids and she believes she can, too. Unconvinced, Steven moves out, leaving J.C. to raise the child on her own.

Herr boss, Fritz Curtis (Sam Wanamaker) tells her that Hughes Larrabee (Pat Hingle), the head of “The Food Chain,” which owns many brands of foods, is looking for someone to manage The Food Chain account. J.C. wins the account and is put in charge of it.

Fritz also decides that Ken Arrenberg (James Spader), J.C.’s young apprentice, will be on her team with the Food Chain account.

But caring for the child occupies much of her time and her career begins to suffer, especially when she starts bringing Elizabeth to classes intended to help boost babies’ intelligence. As a result, Ken starts making decisions without her. Fritz then informs her that Ken is taking over, while she is tasked with low-profile accounts. J.C. quits her job.

She moves into rural Vermont, buying a house without inspecting it.  About to go bankrupt, she sees an opportunity to sell baby food, applesauce, she had concocted for Elizabeth from fresh ingredients.

Meanwhile she develops a relationship with local veterinarian Jeff Cooper (Sam Shepard), though she plans to move back to New York—or so she says.

After a rough start she succeeds in selling “Country Baby,” her gourmet baby food, and soon business is booming, with orders from all over the country.

Finally, her old boss Fritz and his client Larrabee take notice. The Food Chain offers to buy her company for millions, take her product nationwide, and give her back her career and high-prestige life. But she decides to grow her enterprise on her own without sacrificing her personal life.

The last line is memorable: “I think the rat race is going to survive with one less rat.” She returns to Vermont, home of her lover and adopted daughter.

Diane Keaton gives a charming performance, dominating every scene she is in, demonstrating, like other comedy actresses before her (Jean Arthur, Judy Holliday) that she is as deft in playing a ditsy dame as well as an ambitious career woman, without ever losing her natural charm and femininity. She moves swiftly from moods of anger and humiliation to pride and determination—often within the same scene, thus elevating the routinely written, often inane comedy to a star vehicle of the first order.

Baby Boom marked Keaton’s first of four collaborations with writer-producer Nancy Meyers, the best of which is arguably Something’s Got to Give, opposite Jack Nicholson.

Life Imitates Art

Though boasting romances with some of Hollywood’s most famous and desirable men (Warren Beatty, Al Pacino), Keaton has never been married.  Over the years, she has adopted and raised two children.