Maxine Trump is a documentary filmmaker who filmed “To Kid or Not to Kid” to justify, in her mind and perhaps ours, her decision to remain childless.
“Well,” you think, “surely that’s her own business, and who does she have to justify herself to? In this day and age? I mean, really!”
But you’d be surprised. OK, shocked. The pressures, in the media, from “the baby economy,” from friends and relatives, from GOVERNMENTS, is out there. And it’s not subtle.
“To Kid or Not to Kid” is an engaging personal essay documentary about not having children, complete with interviews, arguments, hard data and sound reasoning coming from both sides of the debate. It’s all aimed at figuring out what Trump — no relation — will decide as she is now in her 40s and “the clock is ticking.”
She opens with a summary of how she’s lived her life — globe-trotting, living close to the edge, finding filmmaking — and how children never entered her mind. She bears the scars from the removal of a gangrenous fallopian tube in her teens, shares the news that she was told she might have a few miscarriages, should she choose to get pregnant, and reveals that she and her sister feel they held their mother back when she had them “too young.
But she’s married, and she and husband Josh Granger haven’t had “that talk.” “To Kid or Not to Kid” is about that conversation, the schism her earlier outspokenness caused with a friend and the societal pressures to procreate that some see as a strain a crowded planet hardly needs these days.
“Selfish” is the word she confesses she used that cost her the friendship of a new mother she’d been close to forever. It’s a word bandied about a lot by “both sides” of this discussion.
But when Pope Francis says “The choice to not have children is selfish,” when a running montage of TV chat and “news” shows echoes it, with “Fox and Friends” declaring “Childless women can never be happy,” you see where the heat is really coming from.
Oh, and your Holiness? Look in the mirror.
Using the internet to research the subject takes her to Megan, a young woman trying to get approved for tubal ligation/sterilization surgery, against the apparent will of the medical establishment she is dealing with in the UK.
Trump finds her way to the “Summit for Women Without Children” and finds fellow true-believers, more witnesses for the “pronatalism” bent our culture and our global economy push on women.
A Danish public service announcement urging procreation is played, and such PSAs air in Italy, Hungary and India of all places.
Snippets of female comics’ stand-up acts, with jokes about being childless, and a clip from “The Handmaid’s Tale” play under data about the percentage of countries that restrict birth control.
Stigmatized politicians — women who lead or have led Britain, Germany and Australia — face questions and attacks for not having kids.
And still Trump is on the fence, or not really.
“I could lose my identity if I have kids,” and “What if I regret NOT having a kid?”
Will she or won’t she? Her film is serious about the subject, but it looks for and finds the odd moment of humor in her “journey.”
A frank admission that she and Josh have “just had (reckless) sex” scores the biggest laugh of “To Kid or Not to Kid.” “Morning After” pills make her sick, Trump confesses. Well, it’s “better to be sick for a day than sick for twenty years” she jokes.
Well, if THAT’S how you feel about it…
MPAA Rating: unrated, adult subject matter
Cast: Maxine Trump, Josh Granger, Bryan Caplan
Credits: Written and directed by Maxine Trump. A Helpman release.
Running time: 1:16