If it's not one thing it's another. First, you can't get a date to the prom, and all the cute girls won't talk to you because you're a geek and your life is over. Then, before you know it, you're married, with a dink job and a whopping mortgage and a pregnant wife and troglodyte in-laws and your life is over again.
This is the sense you get from a John Hughes movie -- from any John Hughes movie -- that life is filled with travail and suffering over issues of no greater consequence than one's choice of breakfast cereal. His new film, "She's Having a Baby," which stars Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern, is supposed to represent a breakthrough for the former teen-auteur. It's his first full-fledged adult comedy-drama, and in it, he deals for the first time with the real weighty issues confronting young marrieds. Things like whether or not the sofa will fit along the far wall and what color to paint the kitchen.
Jake Briggs (Kevin Bacon), the central character, loves his wife Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern), but he can't help feeling that something's missing from his life, that a fuller, richer, more satisfying and romantic dimension exists out there just beyond his grasp. Basically he's a child. Getting married for him was like entering the jaws of responsibility; it meant becoming a grown-up, settling down, making a commitment, and he wasn't ready.
The main problem here is that it's tough to get excited about issues that Donahue has already done at least 20 times. In fairness, Hughes is making an attempt here to deepen his material and address more serious themes. But essentially he's an adman, not a filmmaker, and the dilemmas faced by the characters on screen have no greater urgency than those faced by the actors in television commercials.
Much of the film is devoted to the couple's attempts to get pregnant. Jake, it seems, has a problem, stemming from his preference for tight-fitting briefs. But after a shift to boxers and -- for reasons I feel ill equipped to handle -- with the aid of a turkey baster, fertilization is achieved, and Baby is on its way.
At this point the movie shifts gears and becomes a tender comic meditation on the pratfalls of pregnancy, with shots of the couple at their Lamaze class and jokes about panty and bra sizes and morning sickness, some of which seem to come from old Lucy and Dick Van Dyke shows.
Hughes attempts to get foxy on us, though, when Kristy goes into labor and complications arise. As she agonizes on the delivery table, Jake begins to see how much he has taken his life for granted, and in an instant, grows up. Presto! He's a man.
His transformation is no more believable than anything else in the film, even though Bacon, who manages to make an appallingly self-absorbed creep into a fairly likable guy, gives it all he's got. McGovern's character is less substantial, but she, too, has some nifty moments. (The elaborate, businesslike manner in which she goes about getting herself impregnated is particularly funny.) In general, if it weren't for the good will we feel toward the actors, the movie would be intolerably feeble. It's nearly intolerable as it is. The only other plus is Stewart Copeland's jaunty, percussive score. It's this sort of thing that's giving maternity a bad name.
She's Having a Baby, at area theaters, is rated PG-13 and contains some adult material.