Casa de Los Babys

Casa de Los Babys brings together an amazing array of actresses and gives them nothing to do. All these women are gathered at an unnamed Latin or South American country where they are preparing to adopt a baby. They anxiously bide their time in the titular hotel, waiting for their adoption papers to process. Casa de Los Babys is the latest film by writer/director John Sayles (Sunshine State, Limbo) and this one is more of a character study than anything else. Think of a similarly structured film, Dancing at the Blue Iguana, and then make the characters interesting and the situations less stereotypical.

Skipper (Daryl Hannah, Northfork, A Walk to Remember) is a fitness freak, always exercising and on a strict diet. Jennifer (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Adaptation) is relatively young, and missing her husband terribly. Gayle (Mary Steenburgen, Sunshine State, I Am Sam) doesn't really have anything to do, but is probably the nicest character. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Leslie (Lili Taylor, High Fidelity, The Haunting), a cynical editor from New York that some of the women suspect of being a lesbian. The most high-strung character is Nan (Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock, Space Cowboys), and the last character is Eileen (Susan Lynch, From Hell, Nora), who arrived all the way from Ireland.

There are simply too many characters. Sayles even includes some stories on some of the employees and one of the women who will give her child up. The film is more a collection of short stories, and less one cohesive plot. The women hang out and talk to each other, telling their dreams for their children and their fears, and go their merry way, sightseeing or dining out. Meanwhile, Sayles gets a tad political with some of the comments he has one of the locals making about all these American women coming for their children.

The sad part is, it is the actors who get the short end of the stick. Aside from one good monologue, Lynch almost does nothing. Steenburgen and Gyllenhaal don't have that much to do, and it looks like Hannah is on an extended workout. Taylor and Harden have the most to do, but it still isn't much. Sayles is between a rock and a hard place. He wants to use this many women because it shows a certain breadth, yet it doesn't allow him to delve into an individual story. With so many people and so little going on, it is a wonder that Casa de Los Babys does not become dull. It does kind of meander at its own pace, going from person to person, touching lightly upon a variety of subjects before drawing to a close.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
i hour, 35 minutes, Rated R for some language and brief drug use.

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