Ilana Glazer, Michelle Buteau and Pamela Adlon Delight SXSW With ‘Raw’ Pregnancy Comedy ‘Babes’

Rexa Vella

Ilana Glazer, Michelle Buteau and Pamela Adlon Delight SXSW With ‘Raw’ Pregnancy Comedy ‘Babes’

“Babes,” a new comedy about the highs and lows of pregnancy and early motherhood, received a boisterous welcome at its SXSW premiere on Saturday. The audience frequently broke into sustained waves of laughter watching BFFs Eden (Ilana Glazer, who also co-wrote and produced) and Dawn (Michelle Buteau) contend with how Dawn’s second child and Eden’s unexpected pregnancy upend their lifelong, so-close-they-send-each-other-photos-of-their-poops friendship.

At the post-screening Q&A, Glazer — also joined by director Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”) and co-writer Josh Rabinowitz — explained that while showering, producer Susie Fox had a vision of making a movie about how she and so many people she knew (including Glazer and Rabinowitz) were either impending or new parents.

“We found that we were really interested in how it changed our friendships,” Glazer said. “That was the way we started organizing all the ideas.”

Adlon, who is making her feature directing debut with “Babes,” said that she was “moved” by the resulting script, fascinated by its depiction of “how friendships change and morph. Somebody gets a partner and somebody gets a kid and maybe another kid, and somebody doesn’t have that yet.”

“I’m floating more towards the female direction in terms of the worlds that I’m interested in,” Adlon added. She was particularly taken with the extended sequence dramatizing how Eden and her baby’s father, Claude (Stephan James), meet on the subway and awkwardly joke about their interest in the “feels” of unprotected sex before they eventually sleep together.

“It’s really a scene about consent,” Adlon said. “I want my kids to see that. I think this this movie is for all ages — I know we’re in Texas, but Texas is big.”

Adlon was also keen to embrace the “raw” nature of pregnancy. In the film’s opening sequence, for example, Dawn asks Eden to look under her dress to see whether she is, indeed, in labor. “You see all of this raw stuff in men’s comedies,” Adlon said. “We weren’t trying to be salacious, but it’s really important because we laugh so much as women.”

The film also involves a fair amount of improvisation, especially between its two leads. But Buteau was also quick to credit the creative work Adlon, Glazer and Rabinowitz did to create a solid narrative foundation in which to play. “These two writing a fantastic fucking script, this one directing her ass off — I mean, I felt like Beyonce and Usher at a Super Bowl,” she said.

Asked what the vibe was like on the set, Buteau smiled. “You know spirit week at daycare, where every day, it’s like crazy pajama day, crazy hat day?” she said, to another wave of laughter. “That’s what it was.”

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