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'Baby's Day Out'

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 01, 1994


Patrick Read Johnson
Adam Robert Worton;
Jacob Joseph Worton;
Joe Mantegna;
Joe Pantoliano;
Brian Haley;
Lara Flynn Boyle
Parental guidance suggested

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Move over Arnold, Sly and Bruce -- Baby Bink is on the loose.

Without uttering a word, the invincible, unstoppable Bink, the fearless infant star of "Baby's Day Out," vaults to the head of the action-hero charts in this winning, adorably funny comedy from "Home Alone" producer John Hughes.

More resourceful than Batman, more fearsome than the Terminator, Baby Bink is a little angel who crawls in where grown-ups fear to tread. Kidnapped and held for ransom by a trio of stooges posing as baby photographers, Bink eludes his captors by slipping out the window of their headquarters, creeping down a fire escape and out onto the street. Commuting by handbag, taxi and bus, this preternaturally mobile critter visits a department store, the zoo and finally a construction site, using as a guide his favorite bedtime book. And though not able to walk or talk or morph, he manages to keep one step ahead of the lawless, who knock themselves out, quite literally, trying to recapture him.

Nothing could be more endearing to kids than the spectacle of adults having their crotches set on fire, their feet flattened by a truck and their knuckles cracked by a gorilla, and -- as he did in his "Home Alone" movies -- Hughes has stuck to that basic truth. And you have to admire the ease with which Hughes, who also wrote the script, and director Patrick Read Johnson get down to the cartoon high jinks right from the start.

And why not? Their protagonist here (played by the Worton twins, Adam Robert and Jacob Joseph) doesn't have any lines, and the villains (played by Joe Mantegna, Joe Pantoliano and Brian Haley) are little more than punching bags. About the only distraction from the main business of roughing up the kidnappers is a subplot involving Bink's mother (Lara Flynn Boyle), a shallow young socialite who, by losing her baby, learns to love him all the more.

What's remarkable is how charming this rambunctious little fable turns out to be. The special effects, which reach their imaginative pinnacle in the segment where Bink toddles around the bare beams of an unfinished skyscraper, are not only spectacular but also sweet and inobtrusive. The pace, too, is quick and efficient but never frantic, allowing us a moment now and again to linger over the beauty of an image.

Almost everything in the picture is just right, including the two-bit crooks who abduct the superhero toddler and end up bruised and begging hilariously for mercy. Best of all, though, is the Binkman himself, whose tiny face is so expressive that he brings new meaning to the phrase "conquering with a smile." Talk about your strong, silent type.

Baby's Day Out is rated PG.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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