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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 17.65%
Average: 11.76%
Pretty Bad: 2.94%
Total Crap: 2.94%

1 review, 28 user ratings

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Pretty Baby
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by Chris Parry

"How the hell did they get away with this one?"
5 stars

Prudes and reactionary parents are always claiming that the reason for so much violence in today’s society is that we’re all subjected to violent and sexual movies and TV. These people may be well intentioned, but they’re also way off base. Any long look at the movies of the 70’s will show you a long list flicks with gratuitous violence, ridiculous racism, sex by the bucket full and more unshaved pubic hair than a meeting of the Greek Elderly Naturalists Society. Watch Deathwish some time and tell me that film would make it past the censors today. Compare The Exorcist to Sixth Sense, or the original Halloween to the fake, gore-free modern day versions. Hell, in the 70’s you could still catch an X-rated porno in your local movie theater. And, remarkably, we weren’t butchering each other in the streets back then.

Mind you, there was still controversy, and Pretty Baby was a film that is almost designed for controversy. The story of a young girl raised in a Louisiana brothel, growing up to be a whore herself, is filled with nakedness and sex – but that’s not why it’s controversial. What stoked the ire of so many back in the day is that the lead character is played by Brooke Shields – a 12-year-old, often naked Brooke Shields, at that.

Yes, you heard me, she was 12 and she got naked. Naked a lot. And I’m not talking ‘innocent cherub in the woods’ naked, I’m talking ‘they tells me I’m real good at the sexin’s stuff’ naked.

Now, this kind of flick obviously just screams for the bible-bashers and mind police to cast damnation upon it and anyone who dares see it, and to be honest, even this liberal-minded reviewer found it uncomfortable to watch, but there’s no denying that this is far more than a pervy Lolita-lovers flick. Yes, Susan Sarandon plays Brooke’s ho-bag mother, and yes, she too gets very naked and has much sexual ‘innercourse’, but there’s a whole lot more to this movie than simply exhibiting Sarandon’s fine… round… milky soft… perfect… what was I saying again?

Oh yeah, Susan Sarandon has the most perfect cans I’ve ever seen. At least she did back when this film was produced. Nowadays she might be exhibiting more stretch marks than Jared from Subway, but back in the late 70’s there was no finer woman in existence. “Ohhhh, Janet…”

So mom’s a dirty whore. I’m sure we can all relate to that, right? Oh, you guys aren’t Yankees fans? My mistake. So while mom is off boffing the men of Louisiana, little Brooke is hiding under tables, keeping herself amused, just waiting to grow up so she can get a ‘fancy man’ of her own. When she comes of age (which in early 20th century Louisiana means you’re ‘old enough to bleed’), she’s paraded around the brothel as prize virgin meat and a bidding war takes place over who’ll be the first to do the nastay.

Meanwhile, a photographer (Keith Carradine) hanging around the girls taking pictures falls for little Brooke and decides to make her his wife. Yes, you heard, he’s opted to make the 12-year-old his betrothed. Clearly this guy’s not big on conversation. Or breasts. Or being seen in public. What follows is a story twist that will take you a little thinking to even spot – that Brooke is merely playing while her new hubby is anything but.

French director Louis Malle (Au revoir les enfants, My Dinner with Andre) wrote, produced and directed this film and it’s his patience and artistry that ensures it isn’t merely seen as porn. Could the film have delivered what it needed to without featuring a naked 12-year-old prominently?

Probably, but by making sure that viewers are astonished by what they see in Pretty Baby, Malle delivers the message with a heart punch rather than a telegram, and in this reviewer’s opinion that takes the film from pretty good to great.

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originally posted: 11/18/02 14:07:17
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User Comments

10/28/10 Michel is not brooke's best acting role might be do to her age but the story is compelling. i 4 stars
3/20/08 andrell i want wacth this moovie 5 stars
1/17/07 David Pollastrini a porno movie masquerading as art! 3 stars
12/10/06 Jeff Horowitz i quite enjoyed seeing 12-year-old brooke running around naked 5 stars
9/12/06 dany excelent 5 stars
8/07/06 Ted L Thought provoking. Realistically portrayed. 5 stars
7/04/06 malcolm i probably would have given it 5 stars, if not for the naked 12 y/o. 4 stars
11/27/05 lee smith it is suprisingly odd that it actuly made it to be finshed and seen 5 stars
11/23/05 perv I couldn't believe when she was naked 5 stars
10/30/05 Heather I saw this years ago and i have never stopped thinking about it. It's wonderful 5 stars
7/23/04 Elaine Carroll Very good film that does not "talk down" to the audience. 4 stars
7/20/04 Ralph an absolute disgrace, makers should have gone to jail it was porn!, brooke's sad mom as wel 1 stars
7/11/04 Hans she is and has been great 5 stars
6/09/04 Heather I love the innocent, yet devilish childishness of Brooke Shield's character. 5 stars
2/29/04 Dev Hey, YOU! Watch it! (This commendable movie, that is.) 5 stars
11/09/03 SJ Shocking! 4 stars
8/29/03 Morgan Booth Did Sean Harrop get naked? He is sexy! Mmm I want his big fat dick in my ass. I love semen. 5 stars
7/31/03 Frank Beautifully troubling! 5 stars
7/11/03 pervert Jesus wouldnt like this , but i do 5 stars
6/26/03 Quilty Brooke WAS naked. Naked children is NOT illegal. 5 stars
6/09/03 TH I think I'd like to see it again. When will it be on? What channel? 3 stars
5/24/03 Manju Bandaratolake Great! 5 stars
4/21/03 Kari Brooke Shields didn't get naked, it was a body double. That would have been child pornogra 4 stars
1/22/03 Pinkline Jones Celluloid Cesspit - woeful - Brooke looks good though. 2 stars
1/02/03 Jake Garrison An artistic visionary masterpiece 5 stars
11/21/02 R.W. Welch Atmospheric, just not all that engrossing. 3 stars
11/19/02 Charles Tatum Aside from the nudity, big deal 3 stars
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  05-Apr-1978 (R)


  05-Apr-1978 (R)

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