Buddy movies are not new to Hollywood. After all, we see bromance movies popping up every other year. Just look at the success of the recent “Bad Boys” movies, and you’ll understand why. Despite this proven formula, female friendship films are rare. Perhaps that’s why many “Babes”-related articles have mentioned Kirsten Wiig’s “Bridesmaids” since that was the only popular example. Alas, Pamela Adlon’s “Babes” is as intense as the 2011 film and is written with so much compassion toward pregnancy, motherhood, postpartum, and parenthood in general. The film stars Ilana Glazer and Michelle Buteau in the lead roles as lifelong friends battling the challenges mentioned above together.

Spoilers Ahead

Babes (2024) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

In her feature directorial debut, “Babes,” Pamela Adlon explores the lives of Eden and Dawn, two close friends who fight the challenges of pregnancy, motherhood, and friendship together.

What is Pamela Adlon’s ‘Babes’ about?

Eden (Ilana Glazer) takes a couple of trains to meet her lifelong friend, Dawn (Michelle Buteau), for their annual Thanksgiving outing. Dawn is pregnant and is inching toward her labor. So, it’s not just Eden who makes an effort to stick to their tradition. Alas, they enter a near-empty theatre for a film. Dawn moves from one seat to the other but finds them all wet. So, Eden realizes that Dawn is about to go into labor. But Dawn doesn’t want to go to the hospital on an empty stomach due to her similar experience with her first child. Subsequently, the duo enters a restaurant for a meal. But midway, Dawn starts going through an excruciating pain. They rush to the hospital.

Soon after, Dawn’s husband, Marty (Hasan Minhaj), arrives there. After the complicated labor, Dawn craves sushi that she has not had in a while. Eden goes to an expensive restaurant and returns with a box. By then, Dawn & Marty fall asleep. So, Eden returns home with that expensive food. On the train, she bumps into Claude (Stephan James), a New York actor who spent his day playing a small part in Martin Scorsese’s film. During the subway ride, they eat sushi together and talk about their lives. They discuss their relationship issues and their paranoia about the STDs. That’s when they realize they go to the same twins for medical help.

Eden & Claude

After their long ride, Eden goes to Claude’s house to play on Xbox with him. Before, they spoke about how they never had unprotected sex. Hence, they decide to give it a chance with each other. After having sex with Claude, Eden returns to her job as a Yoga instructor. She keeps texting Claude, but he never responds. Meanwhile, Dawn & Marty take care of their children and discuss their anxieties about parenthood. After their newborn’s arrival, their son, Tommy, starts throwing a tantrum for attention. In order to get away from this pressure, Dawn decides to have fun with Eden. She goes to Eden’s house to consume drugs together.

Babes (2024) Movie Review, Ending Explained & Themes Analysed
A still from “Babes” (2024)

In her lucid state, Eden imagines herself pregnant with a large belly. Later, she takes multiple pregnancy tests to realize that she is pregnant. Eden is certain Claude is the child’s father. But since Claude ghosted her, she decides to meet the twins, Bobby & Benny (Keith & Kenneth Lucas), who have both their data. Based on her description, they immediately understand who she’s talking about. Even though they are bound to keep the information private, they can’t help but share it, considering Eden’s situation. Turns out, Claude died shortly after he had sex with Eden. He died alone by choking because no one was there to help with the Heimlich maneuver.

Eden’s Pregnancy

After learning about the child’s father, Eden visits Dr. Morris (John Carroll Lynch) for a check-up. Since the fetus is healthy, she decides to keep the baby. While she goes through the motions of her pregnancy, Dawn & Marty start looking for a daycare as they plan to return to work. Amid the physical pain, Eden tries to manage her responsibilities as a yoga teacher. When Dawn & Marty go out for a date night, Eden babysits their kids. Knowing Tommy’s baby-like behavior, she decides to show him R-rated “The Omen.” Once Dawn returns home, she talks about Marty’s well-meaning compliments that feel pointed and offensive in another context.

More than anything, Dawn is frustrated with the pressures of parenthood that don’t leave much space for personal joy. So, she and Eden break and burn some things to take out their frustration. A few days later, Tommy’s nanny finds demonic signs scribed all over his room, similar to what he saw in “The Omen.” Since the nanny quits her job, Dawn has to bail on Eden’s doctor’s appointment. Instead, Eden’s estranged father, Bernie (Oliver Platt), shows up for support. After the appointment, he admits his regret of his irresponsible parenting but appreciates how resourceful Eden has grown up being.

Dawn’s Parenting Troubles

Dawn realizes why Tommy’s nanny left her job. Still, Eden expects Dawn to join her for all her appointments. So, Dawn tells Eden to look for a doula to help her instead. During Eden’s later appointment, Dr. Morris suggests she go on a babymoon trip as she approaches the due date. Dawn joins her as a respite from her parenting duties. The duo heads for a vacation and decides to let loose. Since Dawn lives hours away on the Upper East Side, Eden proposes moving in together. Dawn dismisses her idea as she has a family. Instead, she decides they both should take space to gain their independence.

After the trip, Dawn returns home to learn their drainage pipes have exploded because of a clog. As a result, their entire apartment stinks. While walking through the stained apartment, she complains about how the parenting is taking a toll on her, and she doesn’t know where to direct her anger. Then, Marty opens up about his emotional troubles as neither being a parent nor being at work satisfies him or offers him an escape from his dread. They empathize with each other’s feelings of insignificance. Meanwhile, Dawn cannot bear the intense pain any further. In Dawn’s absence, she meets Dr. Morris for medical advice. He suggests waiting as expected.

Babes (2024) Movie Ending Explained:

Does Dawn accept Eden’s plan to move in together?

At the end of “Babes,” we see Dawn getting on a plane to be a part of a wonderful opportunity for their hospital. During her video call with Eden, she realizes that Eden has gone into labor. So, she tells Eden to call for help immediately. When she is about to leave with her doula, Dawn suddenly shows up at her doorstep to join her during her delivery. They apologize for their recent argument and reconcile. Together, they head to the hospital, where Eden gives birth to a baby girl. She names her Claudette after her father, Claude.

Babes (2024) Movie Review, Ending Explained & Themes Analysed
Another still from “Babes” (2024)

Later, Dawn and her family join Eden & Claudette to watch the movie Claude starred in for a minor role the day before they met on the subway. While walking back home, Dawn reveals that her family is moving back to Eden’s neighborhood, knowing that she cannot live without her. In the end, Dawn accepts Eden’s plan to close their distance after realizing how much they mean to each other. This likely stems from her frustration and the lack of satisfaction in her & Marty’s lives as parents. So, her decision shows empathy toward her & Dawn’s common experiences.

Babes (2024) Movie Review:

Pamela Adlon has a knack for fusing the wacky and the endearing. It is evident through her work on “Better Things,” an endearing parenting drama that doesn’t shy away from depicting the harsher truths. Adlon unashamedly presents the nastier, conventionally awful aspects of parenting or pregnancy without letting it veer into something unwatchable. The same is reflected in her feature directorial debut, “Babes,” which finds a fine balance between its intense and warm, humanist moments. At times, they coincide with each other. But their marriage is never unappealing, shallow, or insensitive.

Written by Ilana Glazer & Josh Rabinowitz, the script is peppered with clever insights. There’s a moment when Dawn talks about her complicated feelings about her too-perfect partner, explaining her attraction and her feelings about his compliment in vivid detail. It’s wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve approach to dialogue-writing makes it resonate on a deeper level. The conflicts are explored enough to make us care for them without judgment. So, even its friendship-film tropes don’t bother as they would in an otherwise creatively bankrupt film. Ilana Glazer, Michelle Buteau, and Hasan Minhaj’s performances help elevate it further.

Babes (2024) Movie Themes Analysed:

Parenthood & Adult Friendships

Besides the complications of pregnancy, “Babes” also discusses the complicated nature of parenthood. Be it through Dawn, Eden, Marty, or Bernie, it shows multiple shades of this cyclical chain of responsibility. From the moment a child is born, the film shows how they receive kindness or empathy, unlike their parents. Besides its comical moments, it shows the burden of responsibility and the feeling of walking on a tightrope, whether you oscillate between feeling you’re doing too much or not doing enough.

There’s also the guilt of some unpleasant thoughts due to their sheer burden. Besides, the film discusses the fear of loneliness in the current age amid its embrace of individualistic solitude. In the beginning, it shows Claude choking to death since he didn’t have anyone to save him. This likely triggers Eden’s fear of being alone when in an emergent need. As an adult, she relies on her longtime friend. Dawn realizes what she means to Eden and does her part to restore their close friendship.

Read More: Ezra (2023) Movie Review, Ending Explained & Themes Analysed: Does Max Face Arrest or Is it a Heartwarming Reunion?

Trailer:

Babes (2024) Movie Links: IMDb, Wikipedia, Rotten Tomatoes, Letterboxd
The Cast of Babes (2024) Movie: Ilana Glazer, Michelle Buteau, Hasan Minhaj, John Carroll Lynch, Oliver Platt, Sandra Bernhard, Stephan James
Babes (2024) Movie Released May 24, Runtime: 1h 44m, Genre: Comedy
Where to watch Babes

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