Quite possibly the worst major movie of 1999, Baby Geniuses
attempted to capitalize on the success of 1995's Babe
and its 1998 sequel, Babe: Pig in the City
. Despite the best efforts of special effects
workshop Michael Burnett Productions, the moving mouths are considerably less convincing on babies. Add to that an ill-conceived plot by Francisca Matos, Robert Grasmere, and producer Steven Paul
, and it's amazing the thirteen-million-dollar film even turned a profit.
Kathleen Turner and Christopher Lloyd star as scientists employed by BABYCO, the world's leading manufacturer of baby products. In a secret lab, the two work to decode baby talk - theoretically a sophisticated language used by babies to discuss the secrets of the universe. One of the more intelligent babies (called Sly, as if we weren't sure of his sneakiness, and played by Leo, Myles, and Gerry Fitzgerald) escapes from the lab, and rallies the babies of the world to free those still being used as guinea pigs by BABYCO. The scientists spend much of the movie chasing after their escaped charge, and mayhem ensues.
This was a definite low point in the careers of Turner, Lloyd, and co-stars Kim Cattrall, Peter MacNicol, Dom DeLuise, and Ruby Dee. The plot is uninspired - mad scientist chases after brilliant youngster - and the adult actors fumble through the script, fully aware that they are not the movie's real attraction. The most unfortunate part of Baby Geniuses is without question its special effects. The "babies can talk to each other" idea was much better realized in the Look Who's Talking movies, which featured voiceovers for the infants; adding Babe-like mouth movements seriously detracted from the idea and even the entire movie: viewers spend more time aghast at the effects than following the story. The mischevious child of Home Alone was more effective and enjoyable than the naughty babies of Baby Geniuses, whose antics are striving to be the physical comedy of the Three Stooges but without any of the actual humor.
Supposedly in the family comedy genre, the 97-minute Baby Geniuses received a PG rating for "rude behavior and dialogue." It was directed by Bob Clark (who also directed A Christmas Story), and Jon Voight (father of Angelina Jolie) shared executive producer credits with Hank Paul and David Saunders. The film was distributed by TriStar, and a sequel called Baby Geniuses 2: Superbabies was slated for a 2002 release.