TO KID OR NOT TO KID
Reviewed for Shockya.com by: Harvey Karten
Director: Maxine Trump
Screenwriter: Maxine Trump
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 11/1/18
Opens: November 15, 2019
The second or third question Americans like to ask people they’ve just met after finding out their vocations is: “Got kids?” Some people are embarrassed to hear that question. What can they say? They can’t say “Sure: I have one beautiful daughter and a brilliant son. Take a look at their pictures!” (Produces and opens wallet to oohs and ahhs). If you say, no kids, that sounds abrupt and might even embarrass the questioner who should have known better. Other childless people, especially those over seventy with a sense of wit say, “Not yet,” or typically “None that I know of.” (Ha ha). There is one clever point a questioner might offer to increase the embarrassment: “If you don’t want (or have) kids, what was the point of getting married? That’s a tough one.
Being married and childless or even being single and having no spawn may be more acceptable today at least in New York or Austin or Hollywood, but it hasn’t yet really caught on with the broad swath of Americana or the whole rest of the world. Maxine Trump comes to the rescue with “To Kid or Not to Kid,” a 75-minute documentary that does not try to give both sides equal treatment. Yet even film-maker, writer, editor Trump is not entirely sure she made the right decision.
Turkish PM Erdogan says women are not complete without kids. Denmark, which needs population, put up billboards saying in effect that people have more sex on vacation. “Take a trip and nine months later you will have a baby.” Pope Francis notes that people who choose to have no kids are selfish. Is that why officials in his church are not allow to marry? The idea that it’s selfish to be childless, or as proponents say, child-free, is absurd since, in fact, having kids is the selfish decision. Why do people have kids? Because they want to add people to the banquet of life and to refuse to do so is depriving someone unborn, someone completely without the motivation to be brought to life? On the contrary. We have kids because we want someone to love us. We want to give love to someone. We want to turn to children when in a crisis. We want our name to live on forever and forever. This sounds a lot like selfishness to me and to the proponents of To Not Kid.
Maxine Trump, or if you prefer Maxine Tr*mp, is a documentary filmmaker who shoots films around the world. She’s free as a bird. No mess no fuss. In this chick-flick that she made—a chick flick because men have as much exposure here as they have in the movie “The Favourite,” about British Queen Anne and her two female lovers.
She films the action at a Cleveland No-Kids summit where an African-American woman says in the microphone that in her decision to have no kids feels to her like she’s letting Martin Luther King Jr. down. While the film is not balanced—and documentaries have no obligation to be neutral—there are some expressions of conflict bordering on regret. Right now one out of five American women will never have children, so this potential regret is causing a lot of sleepless nights.
Even I, as a member of the male persuasion, have heard these arguments over and over, so there’s nothing new here, though you’re not likely to see a plethora of documentaries or dramas about the no-kid decision. You are more likely to see more films like the 2006 dystopian drama “Children of Men,” wherein a global loss of fertility could be the death-knell of civilization. One man has the power to save the earth.
The film had a world premiere at a DOC NYC festival November 11th at 2.15 at the IFC Center on 323 6th Avenue.
75 minutes. © 2018 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B
Acting – B
Technical – B
Overall – B