Hollywood gripped by baby fever

Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:27pm EDT
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By Paul Bond

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - That baby in the eTrade commercials is hysterical. Someone should make a movie out of him.

Well, that probably won't happen. No matter, though, because there are plenty of other baby-themed movies gestating these days.

Delivering first is "The Back-Up Plan," a Jennifer Lopez vehicle opening April 23, followed by the fittingly titled "Babies," then "The Switch" and "Life as We Know It."

Before the year ends, audiences will also get a look at Robert Downey Jr. playing an expectant dad trying to hitchhike his way home in time for the birth of his child in "Due Date" for Warner Bros. And, let's not forget the latest "Meet the Parents" sequel that has the Fockers (Ben Stiller and Teri Polo) awaiting the birth of their child.

True enough that Hollywood has never ignored babies -- Disney Channel just launched "Good Luck Charlie," the title character being a newborn, and "Juno" and "Knocked Up" are recent enough hits -- but the sudden quantity of baby films suggests something else might be at play.

For those searching for a theory, here's a recurring theme: America is mired in recession and war, and unemployment is at stress-inducing levels, so audiences are in need of some comfort and Hollywood is eager to oblige.

And what's more comforting than cuddly babies?

"During hard times, family becomes even more important," said "Life as We Know It" executive producer Denise Di Novi. "It's been proven. Parents spend more time with their children -- it's that nesting instinct."   Continued...

<p>Hattie is one of four babies followed from birth to first steps in Thomas Balmes' documentary "Babies". REUTERS/Focus Feature/Handout</p>