Let’s Ruin it With Babies (2014)
Writer/director/star Kestrin Pantera’s directorial debut Let’s Ruin It With Babies wears its LA vibe quite openly. The movie begins with a Kickstarter video, in which a woman states over 70s disco, “Ladies and gentleman welcome to the RVIP Lounge…The RVIP Lounge is a mobile karaoke unit housed inside of a customized RV. It serves as equal parts transportation and entertainment. Transportainment.” How cute? One may shudder, as surely the film ahead will be filled with cutesy LA hipster dialogue, costumes and themes. This genre has become so common at film festivals that it can be treacherous terrain in terms of providing a surprising or unique experience.
Kestrin’s film definitely does not surprise. One quirky indie movie line of dialogue in the film is “Sounds like your engine just ate a family of armadillos.”
Kestrin’s film definitely does not surprise. One quirky indie movie line of dialogue in the film is “Sounds like your engine just ate a family of armadillos.” Kestrin’s character Channing reminisces on a trip to Napa Valley in her apartment filled with stringed instruments, a Macbook, an African woodcarving and a hip yellow chair. Wholly unique themes are explored, such as feeling like you’re not ready for a baby, trying to regain the feeling of a younger age, dealing with the temptations of cheating and being thrust out of one’s comfort zone into a situation in which one must survive like an ordinary person. While nothing original, it’s clear that Kestrin is unabashedly embracing her character’s hipster vibe. After all, this is actually her life to some extent. The RVIP Lounge is a real business. Kestrin and Grubb are actually married. Most humorous of all, she actually got pregnant during the shooting of this film. The reality of the situation beckons a sincere story but Let’s Ruin It With Babies is not that.
In terms of technique, Let’s Ruin It With Babies is perfectly fine. It’s not completely crisp and refined like a Hollywood film but it also doesn’t have a distinct visual or sonic identity either.
At the beginning of the film, Channing and her husband Chaz (Jonathan Grubb), announce that they’re going to have a child. Despite having agreed to this, Channing is fearful of this process and the prospect of losing her freedom. The couple is about to embark upon a road trip with their new RVIP Lounge, however Chaz gets a once-in-a-lifetime job offer and chooses not to go on the trip. Channing decides to go herself and brings along a small group of employees. Conflicts arise between Channing and Chaz during this road trip, and between Channing and her employees. The journey is meant to be her passage towards discovering whether or not having a child is right for her. The notion of exploring this question through a mobile karaoke adventure sounds more enjoyable than it ultimately is.
In terms of technique, Let’s Ruin It With Babies is perfectly fine. It’s not completely crisp and refined like a Hollywood film but it also doesn’t have a distinct visual or sonic identity either. Very few images or sounds, if any, will stick with viewers beyond a fortnight or less. Combine that dullness with a relatively typical thematic premise and you’re not left with much to hold on to. Even worse, foolish decisions throughout the film are met with virtually no consequences in the end. During the film, Channing asks a friend if she remembers their previous summer’s trip to Napa Valley. Could a trip to one of the most revered wine countries in the world be that forgettable? Apparently despite whatever actions she may take, Channing is going to be fine with her forgettable vacations to Napa Valley in the future.
Let’s Ruin It With Babies tells a fairly bland story with unoriginal themes, despite coming from the strange reality of writer/director/star Kestrin Pantera’s life. Worse, its neat and tidy conclusions diminish any sincerity the film previously employed. The film is not bad per say just annoyingly mediocre.