Film / Three Men and a Baby
That's really not a safe way to hold a baby, guys.

Three Men and a Baby. It's The '80s.

Swinging bachelors Peter (Tom Selleck), Jack (Ted Danson), and Michael (Steve Guttenberg) are close friends and roommates, sharing an apartment and a fondness for the ladies. One day, however, their lives are turned upside down by the arrival of baby Mary on their doorstep, the result of one of Jack's one-night stands. Jack himself is out of the country on a film shoot, so Peter and Michael have to deal with the situation on their own until he comes home. Hilarity Ensues as the men navigate the complicated waters of raising a baby who slowly steals their hearts, while dealing with a bewildering secondary plotline involving heroin dealers.

Directed by Leonard Nimoy and released by Touchstone Pictures, the film premiered in 1987 and became the highest grossing movie of that year in the US. It got a 1990 sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady, set a few years later. Mary's mother Sylvia (Nancy Travis), who joined the men's household at the conclusion of the first film, gets engaged to fellow British thespian Edward, and announces that she and Mary will be moving to England. This is unwelcome news to the men, not only because of their love for Mary but also because Peter is in love with Sylvia.

According to The Other Wiki, a third film, Three Men and a Bride, may possibly be in the works.

Three Men and a Baby provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All Girls Like Ponies: In the sequel, Edward attempts to show Sylvia that he'll be a good stepfather to Mary by promising the little girl a horse.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: A twist on the trope. Dialogue indicates that when the three men go to parties together, one is only allowed to hit on blondes, one on brunettes, and the third on redheads, so they don't find themselves competing for the same woman.
  • The Cavalry: Invoked by Peter in the sequel, when he flags down the boarding school director (whom he knows to be besotted with him) for a ride to the ceremony; on the phone with Michael, he remarks that "the cavalry just showed up."
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: In the sequel, headmistress Miss Elspeth Lomax is lead to believe by Edward that Peter is in love with her, so she (portrayed as a man-hungry imbecile) aggressively tries to have sex with him, at one point pulling Peter on top of her while shouting "Take Me!" before he talks her down while trying to maintain the lie. As if that's not bad enough, at the time this was in theaters Disney was airing combination TV spots for two films in a single ad and one with The Rescuers Down Under had the "Take Me!" line at the end, followed by Wilbur (John Candy) saying "That's a fabulous idea!"[1]. This from the company that brought us a popular film about a prostitute turned "princess" and a beloved animated classic about a nearly topless teen.
  • Doorstop Baby: The whole plot is triggered by this.
  • Foreign Remake: Of the French movie Trois hommes et un couffin (1985).
  • From the Mouths of Babes: The opening scenes of A Little Lady, where Mary is quite absorbent to the things said around her:
    What a crock!
    (to a waiter) What's a penis?
  • Getting the Baby to Sleep: The three-part 50s era song used as a lullaby.
  • Has Three Daddies
  • Heart Is Where the Home Is: In the sequel, American Peter vs. British Edward for British Sylvia.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Mary's not an orphan — both of her parents are alive and well — but since she's raised by her dad's two best friends for the first half of the original film, the trope is somewhat invoked nonetheless.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: In the beginning of A Little Lady:
    Mary: What a crock!
    Sylvia: Mary! Where did you hear that?
    Peter: [on the phone] What a crock! [hangs up and notices everyone staring at him] What?
  • Major Blunder: The whole time that Peter and Michael mistake the baby Mary for a package that was supposed to be delivered the same day Mary was abandoned on their doorstep, which was supposed to be delivered to a couple of guys a number of days later. They were supposed to fill in on it for Jack who was off in Turkey acting for a commercial. They even go as far as giving Mary to the guys when they arrive with them questioning the certainly of what they were doing assuming it was a joke. They however give into the whole mistake, and take her away. When Peter and Michael find out at the last moment that there was a real package involved that the men were expecting, which ended up under their sofa because Michael didn't bat an eye lid at it when it arrived because he was overwhelmed dealing with Mary, Peter and Michael not only find that they were mistaken about the whole deal since they found Mary due to the coincidence of being on the same day as when the package arrived, but in attempt to deliver it properly and retrieving Mary, Peter also discovers by accident shortly after from tripping over a rug and causing the true package to break open that it also contained packets of heroin.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Two men show up at the apartment and want "the package". Peter and Michael think they've come to pick up the baby — they actually want a delivery of heroin.
  • Off to Boarding School: In the sequel, the men discover that this is Edward's plan for Mary.
  • Personal Arcade: There is a "Harlem Globetrotters" pinball table in the guys' apartment.
  • Rule of Three: Note the titles.
  • Undercrank: Most of the film's opening sequence is filmed this way.
  • Urban Legend: The first film was the subject of one for several years, for a scene in which supposedly a ghostly little boy is seen standing in a window as two characters walk past. Supposedly a little boy had died in the house they were filming in, and his ghost was haunting the film crew. It is, in fact, not a ghost at all, but a cut-out standee of Ted Danson's actor character, Jack. The standee is shown close-up in many other scenes. Not only that, but the scene wasn't shot in a house (let alone one in which a little boy died), but on a movie set!
  • Wedding Deadline: In the sequel.
  • With This Ring: In the sequel, Mary hides the wedding ring as part of the efforts to delay the "I do" sequence until Peter arrives.

Alternative Title(s): Three Men And A Little Lady