Three Men and a Cradle aka 3 Hommes et un Couffin, written and directed by Coline Serreau
French films are often the source of inspiration for Hollywood mega productions and they are generally much better that the American adaptations, and this premise is true for this comedy.
The film was nominated for the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and won the Cesars for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay in 1986.
If the premise is somewhat incredible, this being France, many outré relationships, attitudes, presidents running off on scooters to see their mistress, while the…official partner, not wife, resides in the Elysee Palace, another comparing himself with Jupiter- Macron – all these seem acceptable.
Jacques aka the brilliant Andre Dussollier, Pierre and Michel enjoy the freedom, benefits, easy going attitude, liberty to decide what to do, nights with good sleep, others with partying, seeing as they are bachelors and unattached.
Up to the point when they get a…couffin.
Pierre and Michel are the lucky men who have to take care of an infant, for Jacques works for an airline, he is not just travelling for a couple of weeks, he cannot be reached, for this is a period before the age of the internet, instant messages, emails and all the other means of instant and continuous communication.
This is a comedy, therefore the approach is light and the feature insists on the mirthful aspects, not on the upsetting aspects of a crying baby, the operation of changing the child can be of course a rather overbearing task, but the bright side is looked at.
The men do not know almost anything about the needs of a baby, one of them goes out to buy necessities, but when the time comes to change the infant, it turns out that he had bought items that are too big…
Did you buy things for a retired home? Asks his friend
Obviously, friends have problems with their girlfriends and dates, when the issue of caring for the young one occupies their nights, the two and then the three companions become tired, at times exhausted.
They divide the time between them, with shifts starting at 6 am for one, in the evening for another, there are arguments…
“I will take the baby in the park, feed him, but that means I will do nothing else”
There is a tremendous surprise though, for the mother comes to recuperate the baby and instead of jumping up and down with joy, the expected exultation of finding themselves free again, the men are actually…sad.
Three Men and a Cradle even becomes meaningful and deep when Jacques provokes his friends into thinking about major issues, beyond the freedom to party, enjoy passing moments, fool around
- What about meaning?
- Do you wonder what the meaning of your life is?
Evidently, we cannot reduce the answer to that fundamental question to:
Have children and then your passing on earth would have had value and relevant significance, without progeny, it is all in vain.
Trying a sad joke- one could have babies and vote with Trump, which means that one would have a life not just devoid of significance, but by supporting evil, an individual who would have a serious on Climate Change – for instance- the life of that silly, vicious voter would have a negative impact on the life of the planet and the other human beings…
After taking the baby to raise, the mother returns in distress, traumatized that she does not seem to be able to care properly for him…
Big surprise: the men are…overjoyed.
They have learned how to do it.
There is a nearly perfect system, with the divided schedule, they know the techniques and appear to love the infant.
If the expectations were not high, the film more than beat them, for it is funny, thought provoking at times and shows men able to do more than harass the opposite sex, caring for a child and showing perseverance, bravery and love.