Taking Baby Steps Towards Tolerance and Acceptance

Baby Steps (2015) still

Written by Cole Wissinger
Originally posted on IndieEntertainmentMagazine.com
August 17, 2017

Barney Cheng wrote, directed, and starred in Baby Steps, a film about relationships and the understanding and acceptance they require.

Danny, our main character played by Cheng, is trying to negotiate a relationship with his boyfriend Tate (played by Michael Adam Hamilton) and a mother (played by Ya-Lei Kuei) who doesn’t seem to approve.

Danny and Tate have been together for a year and Danny wants to raise a child with him. They begin looking for a surrogate and egg donor when Danny’s mother finds out and begins micromanaging the process, saving them from a few less than perfect candidates along the way. Having a hovering mother hoping for the perfect grandchild and a boyfriend who is having doubts about his readiness to become a father, put a strain on Danny and both relationships.

As time passes they all grow closer together and learn what really matters in a family; love.

This is Barney Cheng’s directorial debut, and he has not tiptoed lightly into the world of film. Baby Steps tackles modern day issues of homosexuality, mixed-race couples, and surrogacy across country lines. These are all handled beautifully and not as issues at all, but as normal parts of life.

The theme of what makes a normal family was one of my favorites in the film.

Early on, in Danny’s first scene with his mother at a baby banquet for one of her long time friends’ grandchildren, we learn that the family she has is not one she could have expected. She wants grandchildren and to expand their family name.

What she has is one son who is not being serious enough for her liking in his dating practices and another son who is gay. Despite seeming strict and even close-minded at the start Kuei provides insight and even empathy to a character that is trying to do her best.

Barney Cheng's 2015 film Baby Steps.
That is no fake smile. This mother is happy for her boy, and his boy. Even if that’s not what she expected.

During an argument with her son she voices her desire for a normal family prompting him to try to explain “this is my normal.” During his search for a surrogate mother and egg donor we also get the contrast of many different women living more ‘normal’ lives that are in disarray. By the end of the movie she delivers a powerful message about the family that she has and her love for them that mirrors that opening scene.

This movie thoroughly belongs in the Romance/Drama genre with very heavy and emotional moments. The score does wonders to up the emotion. I particularly loved the main theme that is used at the beginning to calmly introduce the world Danny is living in and the two people that love him the most there, Tate and his mother.

Despite the dramatic tone there are still moments of levity, especially as Danny, Ma, and Tate travel all over in their quest for a surrogate mother. His mother has a very high standard for the woman that will contribute to making her grandchild and it is fun to watch her scope out the potential candidates. The humor is well placed and timely, keeping the film moving but always stepping back when the characters need a moment of tension or growth.

Along the way there are moments of conflict between the main characters but after each one is resolved they manage to understand one another better and move forward.

No perfect relationship could be given justice during a 100-minute runtime, it takes time, but this movie teaches that we can all get better at accepting one another, even if we only take baby steps to get there.

A hug between mother and son in Baby Steps (2015).
After watching this film, you may just go find your intolerant parent or grandparent and give em a big ole’ hug too. Then you can remind them that Queer Eye is a total hit, and it needs to be binged watched together to flush out all other feelings of LGBTQIA fear they may have.

Want to see more reviews on films with LGBTQIA themes or subjects? Click here.