The Daily Stream: Look Who's Talking Makes Us Wish All Babies Were Voiced By Bruce Willis

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "Look Who's Talking"

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu, Paramount+, The Roku Channel

The Pitch: Director Amy Heckerling ("Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Clueless," "Loser") brings us the story of thirtysomething single accountant Mollie Jensen (Kirstie Alley), who becomes pregnant after having an affair with one of her married classmates, Albert (George Segal). Believing Albert is planning on leaving his wife to be with her, Mollie elects to keep the baby, but later discovers that Albert is a serial womanizer and a total liar. As Mollie goes into labor, she has a chance encounter with a taxi driver named James Ubriacco (John Travolta), who soon becomes her go-to babysitter for her son Mikey (voiced by Bruce Willis). While Mollie and James struggle over the course of a year to make sense of their place in each other's lives, the entire ordeal is given a comedic, observational commentary track from the perspective of Mikey's internal monologue.

Why it's essential viewing

The late 1980s and early 1990s were a magical time for comedy films, where wild ideas were treated and encouraged with the utmost sincerity. Kirstie Alley and John Travolta are absolutely delightful as Mollie and James, taking us back to a time where they were both charming comedic gold, unaffected by our lingering knowledge of their dedication to Scientology. Both actors are committing to their goofy roles with genuine authenticity, allowing us to feel connected to them as struggling adults trying to make sense of life, rather than watching movie stars at the top of their craft. Few scenes capture the pure joy of existence quite like Travolta sweeping Alley off of her feet for a spontaneous dance as she prepares her baby's lunch while Gene Pitney's "Town Without Pity" plays on the radio.

As much as "Look Who's Talking" is a slice-of-life comedy, the addition of baby Mikey's internal monologue voiced by Bruce Willis truly elevates the movie into something that could only exist during this time. Willis is sincerely funny as Baby Mikey, showing a side to his acting range that the world really hadn't seen just yet. Willis had just become an action superstar the year prior thanks to "Die Hard," and his addition is likely why this odd movie wound up as one of the highest-grossing films of 1989. For context, this is the year that included massive releases like Tim Burton's "Batman," "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "Rain Man," "Lethal Weapon II," and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," and the movie featuring a baby voiced by Bruce Willis outperformed "Ghostbusters II," "Back to the Future Part II," and "When Harry Met Sally..."

The effects are impressive

A good chunk of "Look Who's Talking" features baby Mikey in utero, offering commentary from within the womb. With CGI in its own infancy, Heckerling brought on FX artist Todd Masters to help create the scenes of Mikey in the womb. The film was Masters' first foray into visual effects, marrying puppetry with early digital technology. He created five different puppet versions of Mikey, from zygote to full-on fetus, all controlled by master puppeteers. The "Look Who's Talking" franchise as a whole is famous for its scenes of sperm traveling to fertilize the egg, which were achieved using vinyl sperm loaded with fishing weights and tossed underwater. Masters has gone on to work on acclaimed projects like "Tales from the Crypt," "Six Feet Under," "Stargate SG-1," "True Blood," "Legion," and James Gunn's "Slither."

As silly as the scenes might be, the fertilization scenes in "Look Who's Talking" are a more accurate look at how pregnancy occurs than what is available in most public school sex education curricula. That said, there's also a fascinating theory that "Look Who's Talking" is Scientology propaganda, and that by showing Mikey with sentient thoughts and feelings even in utero, it has perpetuated harmful rhetoric regarding the need for abortion access. It's hard to imagine some effects artist dedicating hours of their life to putting fishing weights in sperm puppets just to peddle propaganda, but stranger things have happened. If this movie is in fact propaganda, it might just be the funniest brainwashing technique ever put to film.

The mundane hilarity of love and parenthood

Unlike most comedies about falling in love or raising a child, "Look Who's Talking" finds the humor in ordinary existence, rather than setting up huge set pieces of spectacle or impossible circumstances. Some of the film's strongest moments are the simplest, like the late, great Olympia Dukakis using "baby talk" only for Bruce Willis to comment on how ridiculous adults are when trying to communicate with infants. George Segal as Albert plays the perfect antagonist, because nothing about him reads like a supervillain, just a run-of-the mill rich prick who speaks in breakthrough therapy terms and has terrible priorities. He's not The Worst Person in The World™, he's just a guy who sucks and captures the energy of other guys who suck that we're forced to deal with in our day-to-day lives. As I find myself growing older and getting closer to the age of talking about how much better things were "back in the day," I can't help but miss a time when comedies like "Look Who's Talking" were all the rage.

There's so much humor to be found just existing on this earth as a human, and with the film's narrator coming from the perspective of a newborn, it's all proudly and unfiltered on display. Yes, Abe Vigoda does have gigantic eyebrows that a baby would want to pull on. Yes, it is a gigantic shock when suddenly postpartum hormones make you cry over a commercial. And yes, it will always be embarrassing to hear your parents openly talk about having sex, no matter the age. In a very weird way, "Look Who's Talking" is a reminder that all of our lives are far more entertaining than we give them credit for being, if only we take the time and try to view it from a different set of eyes ... hopefully voiced by Bruce Willis.