Babble on! (CREDIT: Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures)

Starring: Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, Lukas Haas, Max Minghella, Samara Weaving, Olivia Wilde, Katherine Waterston, Flea, Jeff Garlin, Olivia Hamilton, P.J. Byrne, Rory Scovel, Eric Roberts, Tobey Maguire

Director: Damien Chazelle

Running Time: 188 Minutes

Rating: R for Bacchanalian Partying, Sudden Bloody Ends, and a Few Bumps of the Hard Stuff

Release Date: December 23, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: It’s the 1920s, and Hollywood is Big Business. And when they’re not making movies, it’s basically a non-stop party. But danger also lurks around every corner. With the talkie era looming, Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie) is ready to be a supernova, Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) is hoping to stay relevant, trumpeter Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo) wants to be treated with respect, and dozens of other folks also have their skin in the game. There will be a rise! There will be a fall! There will be an epilogue! You know how it goes.

What Made an Impression?: If you’re thinking that this premise sounds a lot like Singin’ in the Rain, well, writer-director Damien Chazelle doesn’t make any effort to hide that influence. Babylon is essentially the answer to the question, “What if Singin’ in the Rain had ten more storylines and a hundred more exposed private parts?” If that sounds like overkill to you, I would advise you to trust your instincts. The jazz is great, though. Chazelle absolutely knows how to assemble a musical montage.

Babylon‘s next biggest influence, weirdly enough, appears to be the grossest of gross-out comedies in the vein of the Farrelly brothers, as mass quantities of bodily fluids spurt out unexpectedly in all directions on multiple occasions. Within the first five minutes, an elephant excretes what appears to be an entire week’s worth of its meals. A little later, the fanciest of fancy parties is ruined by a heaping helping of projectile vomit. Chazelle’s timing when it comes to yukking it up aren’t on quite the same level as his musical skills. I’m not sure if these moments are meant to be hilarious, tragic, or just plain matter-of-fact.

There are also a lot of deaths in Babylon, and most of them are given exactly zero seconds to investigate the consequences. I’m not surprised that movie set workplace safety wasn’t exactly a top priority a hundred years ago, but it can only work as a punchline so often in this sort of overstimulated movie. After a certain point, it’s just alarming without examining what happens afterward. Babylon is filled with inexplicable decisions, is what I’m trying to say.

Babylon is Recommended If You Like: Being Overstimulated

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Parties