Babyfever: Henry Jaglom’s Serio-Comedy on Women’s Biological Clocks

Henry Jaglom’s “Babyfever” is to women and their biological clocks what his 1991 “Eating” was to women and their relationship with food.

Aiming to provide an intimate look at women’s feelings and thoughts about motherhood, the indie filmmaker fashions a stylistic blend of fictional story and documentary, using interviews with many women, that emerges as overly long, fractured and only intermittently entertaining.

Prime target audience for this outdated pic is suggested by its subtitle, “For those who hear their clock ticking.”

After a series of uneven personal films (“Always,””New Year’s Day, “”Venice/Venice”), Jaglom seems to be in a feminist phase of his career.

Victoria Foyt (Jaglom’s wife) stars as Gena, an attractive middle-aged career woman who can’t make up her mind whether she wants to have a baby with James (Matt Salinger), her sensitive b.f. who likes to talk about building a nest and meshing their yuppie careers.

Just when Gena is about to make a commitment, old flame Anthony (Eric Roberts) reappears with a proposition that confuses her even more. Some suspense arises when Foyt suspects she might be pregnant and anxiously awaits test results from her doctor.

Following exactly the same format as “Eating,””Babyfever” consists of interviews with diverse women, all in their 30s and 40s, who talk to the camera about babies, men, sex, motherhood and careers. “Eating’s” central event was a birthday party; here it’s a baby shower, which provides an occasion for all kinds of biological and psychological sermons.

While “Babyfever” is a more focused film, its anecdotal narrative is not as rich as that of “Eating,” where food served as both a metaphor and a substitute for love and sex.

It’s too bad that lovely actresses like Frances Fisher (“Unforgiven”) are made to ask — straight-faced — about pregnancy and artificial insemination. Pandering to women, the three male characters, who often just interrupt the tale , are conceived as stereotypes. And it doesn’t help that they are played by Roberts, Salinger and Zack Norman, who manage to accentuate the narrow definition of their roles.

The most disappointing element of “Babyfever” is how conventional and humorless the material is. The film rehashes ideas that appeared in New York and other magazines in the late 1980s.

Also dissatisfying is the stereotypical casting — for example, an aging, unattractive woman talks about how she has become reconciled to being single for the rest of her life. At the same time, the film will please any affirmative-action committee, as it carefully uses women of every ethnic minority and sexual orientation.

Dedicated to Jaglom’s young daughter, “Babyfever” obviously bears strong personal meaning for Jaglom and Foyt, but as a social-issue film it’s not very engaging.


  • Production: A Rainbow Film Co. release of a Jagtoria production. Produced by Judith Wolinsky. Directed, edited by Henry Jaglom. Screenplay, Jaglom, Victoria Foyt.
  • Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Hanania Baer; sound, Sunny Meyer; associate producer, Bonnie Beauregard. Reviewed at Sunset Towers screening room, Beverly Hills, March 24, 1994. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 110 min.
  • With: Gena – Victoria Foyt<br> James – Matt Salinger<br> Roz – Dinah Lenney<br> Anthony – Eric Roberts<br> Rosie – Frances Fisher<br> Milly – Elaine Kagan<br> Mark – Zack Norman<br>