Pregnancy, hilarity, and sisterhood

‘Babes,’ a raucous, sensitive comedy, opens at the Film Center.


Being pregnant has never been so funny — and touching — as in Pamela Adlon’s delightful new comedy “Babes,” playing at the M.V. Film Center.
A pitch-perfect ensemble creates an intimate world, a delightful story, and endearingly flawed human characters.
You know you are in for a treat in the riotous opening scene. In front of a Manhattan movie theater, we meet two lifelong besties buying tickets to the 9 am screening on Thanksgiving morning, a 27-year ritual for the two, who seem to be emotionally joined at the hip.
Except Dawn, played with beautiful nuance by Michelle Buteau, doesn’t have any hips, because she’s hugely pregnant. Ilana Glazer (who co-wrote “Babes” along with Josh Rabinowitz) co-stars as the irreverent, over-the-top Eden, and takes it relatively in stride when Dawn’s wet seat in the theater turns out to be from her water breaking.
Insisting they go for an enormous meal at an upscale Manhattan restaurant for a “last supper” before heading to the hospital, Dawn enters heavy labor, much to the dismay of their nervous waiter and astounded diners. The two head off to the hospital, where we are treated to a hilarious but perhaps all-too-intimate account of giving birth. Although Dawn’s husband, touchingly played by Hasan Minhaj, is there, Eden is equally, if not possibly more, important, as a companion in the process.
Afterward, Eden heads out to buy the three of them extravagantly expensive celebratory sushi. Laden with food, Eden discovers she is barred from returning to Dawn’s room since it is after visiting hours.
On the long subway ride home, Eden meets a young actor, Claude (played by Stephan James), still dressed in his red velvet tuxedo, having just finished shooting a scene in Martin Scorsese’s new film playing, he says, “a sexy Black waiter.”
A relationship blossoms as the two joyously eat the sushi on the multiple trains to Astoria, where, after a night of crushing video games, they end up in bed together in Eden’s apartment. A soulful connection appears to be made during the tender night and morning, except Eden finds herself ghosted afterward. She also, against the odds, is pregnant.
In trying to decide what to do, Eden turns to Dawn, needing to know if she will be there every step of the way if she keeps the baby. Since the two, as Eden says, “are sisters, spouses, parents to each other at times,” we are not surprised when Dawn agrees.
The problem is that Dawn, now a mother of two, becomes overwhelmed postpartum with her family woes. The stress of a newborn and young son, who has decided to regress to babyhood, along with juggling a husband, work, and a falling-apart house, becomes overwhelming.
But Dawn gives and gives and gives, and Eden, in her new stage of adulthood, is another who pulls on Dawn’s attention. As the film unfolds, their quirky and emotionally complex friendship becomes tested. While “Babes” is always amusing, we feel for both women as real mistakes are made, feelings are hurt, and life brings all sorts of challenges.
Among the flawless supporting cast is John Carroll Lynch as Dr. Morris, Eden’s gynecologist. All the office-visit scenes are a delight. And we feel nothing but compassion for Oliver Platt, Eden’s tenderly honest, deadbeat dad, who owns his failure.
Superbly written by Glazer and Josh Rabinowitz, “Babes” is thoroughly engrossing whether you are single, married, have had kids, or not. It delves satisfyingly deep into the complexities of female friendship with a blend of hilarity, tears, and labor pains.

“Babes” is showing at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. For tickets and information, visit