It was one of the great urban myths when I was at school: "You know 'Three Men and a Baby'? You can see a ghost in the background when Ted Danson's mother comes to visit!". Unfortunately it's not true. Yes, there's a figure of what looks like a little boy in the background, and yes, if you're expecting it to be a ghost it looks a little creepy, but it's not a ghost. If you pause the film you can see that it's a cardboard cut-out of Ted Danson, and he actually stands right next to the cut-out in a later scene. Now that we've got that urban myth cleared up, how about we review the actual film eh?Once you get past the 'is it a ghost/isn't it?' mystery of the film, perhaps the most surprising thing about 'Three Men and a Baby' is that it's surprisingly fun and doesn't drown itself in sentimentality.
And that's no mean feat, considering the plotline of 'three carefree bachelors (Danson - the father of the child -, Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenburg) are unexpectedly saddled with a baby, and despite their reservations, bond with the child and ultimately - LEARN A LESSON', sounds like sickly, Hollywood guff at its worst.
But it's not, thanks to Leonard Nimoy's spry and light direction (Dr. Spock directed this? Bizarre). So yes, there are jokes about poop and changing the babies, but they're not made out to be the most disgusting or horrifying thing in the world, just a natural part of having a child, and using this approach, Nimoy somehow pulls the material off.
He's also helped by a trio of likeable performances that ingratiate, rather than annoy. Danson proves himself as a skilled comic actor, as does Selleck. Hell, even Steve Guttenburg manages to stay away from instantly slappable. And baby Mary herself, is the kind of cute little one that gets every female broody and every male making silly burbling sounds at the screen.
Perhaps the only stumble in the material is the clunky sub-plot of some drug dealers planting heroin in the baby cot. I'm of the firm opinion that babies and heroin in films really don't mix - just look at 'Trainspotting'.If the most interesting thing about 'Three Men and a Baby' is still the afore-mentioned ghost, and it's not greatly funny, it still deserves plus points for not being anywhere near as bad as it could have been, and for being sweet and charming in its own little way.