The film portrays a young newlywed couple, Kristy and Jake Briggs played by Elizabeth McGovern and Kevin Bacon, who try to cope with being married and what is expected of them by their parents. Jake must also deal with the fantasy woman of his dreams. The film is about traditional 1980s suburban life and the cultural expectations that come along with it. To a large extent what Jake experiences could be described as a form of culture shock, with his best man Davis (Alec Baldwin) as a reminder of his former culture as a single man, and feeling alienated when he overhears his neighbors converse about mundane suburban topics. He feels he has left the culture of single men, and has entered the culture of a married man, and doesn't appear to have a sense of belonging to either.
Template:More plot This film is an existential look at the lives of Jefferson (Jake) played by Kevin Bacon and Kristy Briggs, played by Elizabeth McGovern, from their wedding day until the birth of their first child. Beginning on their wedding day, it follows both their lives, but more so Jake's, with his voice-over commentaries and several imaginary scenes, based on actual or feared future events. Jake asks his best friend, Davis McDonald, played by Alec Baldwin before the wedding if he thinks he'll be happy, to which his friend says, "Yeah, you'll be happy. You just won't know it." And this is the underlying theme of the movie, Jake's existential crisis of, "Is this all there is? Is this really my life?"
After their wedding, Jake and Kristy head off for New Mexico, where Jake works towards gaining a Master's degree, but leaves before finishing, describing it as, "high school with ashtrays." They return to Chicago where Jake, by, "setting new records for lying in the job market," impresses his potential employers so much that they give him work as an advertising copywriter. Jake wants to be a writer and tells his bosses that, which amuses and threatens one boss, who himself had failed at ever writing a book. Kristy also gains work as a research analyst, and they are able to buy a "three-bedroom mortgage" in the suburbs. Jake's best friend suddenly visits after not seeing him for two years, which causes the two to both envy one another's lives, and to also reaffirm their own. Jake begins fantasizing about having an affair with a mysterious young French Model, who is wise beyond Jake's years.
Jake and Kristy then continue to adjust to their new live until Kristy unilaterally decides to cease taking contraceptives, without telling Jake, until, after several months, she informs him that he has been unable to impregnate her. Kristy knows who she is and what she wants in life and seemingly always has. Jake feels pressure, from society and from his wife, to have a child. He doesn't know what he wants. Jake and Kristy then begin a program to assist their efforts to become pregnant, which eventually succeed. The movie culminates with a traumatic yet eventually successful labor and Jake's realization that his lack of satisfaction and sense of detachment are not due to external factors but his own selfishness and immaturity.
The last scene of the film reveals that Jake's voice-over was the new father reading his novel entitled She's Having a Baby to his wife and son.
As the credits roll, there is a rapid succession of suggestions for the name of the baby by numerous cameos including Roy Orbison, Joanna Kerns, Magic Johnson, Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Wil Wheaton, Belinda Carlisle and Kirstie Alley. John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, and Matthew Broderick were in character as Chet Ripley, Roman Craig, and Ferris Bueller during the end credits.
- Kevin Bacon as Jefferson "Jake" Edward Briggs
- Elizabeth McGovern as Kristen "Kristy" Briggs
- Alec Baldwin as Davis McDonald
- William Windom as Russ Bainbridge
- Holland Taylor as Sarah Briggs
- Cathryn Damon as Gayle Bainbridge (Damon's final role, released posthumously)
- John Ashton as Ken
- James Ray as Jim Briggs
- Bill Erwin as Grandfather Briggs
- Paul Gleason as Howard
- Dennis Dugan as Bill
- Larry Hankin as Hank
- Edie McClurg as Lynn
- Nancy Lenehan as Cynthia
- Michael Keaton as Himself (Cameo: End credits)
- Woody Harrelson as Himself (Cameo: End credits)
The film was shot in Winnetka, IL and Evanston, IL from September 1986 to December 1986. However, several scenes were shot directly in the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Most of John Hughes's films either take place in Chicago, in the suburbs of Chicago, or are about people going to or coming from Chicago.
The song during the birth sequence is "This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush and is featured on her 1989 album The Sensual World. John Hughes is thanked in the album's liner notes. The song playing during the trailer is "Music for a Found Harmonium", a song by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. The song played during the street party is "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" by Marvin Gaye.
- "She's Having a Baby" – Dave Wakeling
- "Haunted When the Minutes Drag" – Love and Rockets
- "Desire (Come and Get It)" – Gene Loves Jezebel
- "Happy Families" – XTC
- "Crazy Love" – Bryan Ferry
- "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" – Kirsty MacColl
- "Apron Strings" – Everything but the Girl
- "This Woman's Work" – Kate Bush
- "It's All in the Game" – Carmel
- "Full of Love" – Dr. Calculus
- During the end credits, there are several cameos of actors giving suggestions on what to name the new baby boy. Most of these are taken from actors in other John Hughes films and/or projects shot on the Paramount lot during that time. Cameo appearances include: John Candy and Dan Aykroyd from the John Hughes film, The Great Outdoors (though that was done with Universal Pictures), and Bill Murray from the set of the non-Hughes film, Scrooged. Other notable cameos include cast members of Cheers (Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, John Ratzenberger, and Kirstie Alley) and Star Trek: The Next Generation (Wil Wheaton).
- Filmed at the same time as Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Kevin Bacon has a cameo in that film trying to get a taxi from the main character, Neal Page (Steve Martin). Also, there is a scene where Neal's wife is watching television in her bedroom and although you can't see the image, the audio is from the bedroom fight sequence of She's Having a Baby.
In An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder director Kevin Smith cites She's Having a Baby as his favorite John Hughes movie. He also cites it as a template for Jersey Girl, joking that both movies were financially unsuccessful.
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- She's Having a Baby at Box Office Mojo