(2003)3Richie UnterbergerCasa de Los Babys offers most of the customary pleasures of a John Sayles film: strong ensemble acting, an intelligent script, and a subject (mothers awaiting clearances for adopted children in an unnamed Latin American country) that's both unusual and lends itself to the depiction of various social classes. Why, then, is it one of the director's less satisfying efforts? Perhaps because the movie spreads itself too thin among its numerous characters and their multiple dilemmas, leaving the viewer hungry for more insight and drama than it ultimately delivers. Certainly, it's strongest when focusing upon the American mothers-to-be, not only in reflecting the fears, insecurities, and disappointments that have led them into the baby market, but also in the entertainingly catty gossip that results from having to sit around a hotel for too long with too little to do while they wait for the red tape to get cut. The numerous native characters, however, have more serious problems and, more importantly, more potentially interesting ones: the articulate English-speaking tour guide who can't find even menial work; the aging revolutionary idealist, stuck working for his mother at the motel; the teenager faced with an unwanted pregnancy; the harried adoption lawyer, principled but only to a point; and the illiterate street urchins. All of their vignettes pass by so fleetingly, though, that we're given little opportunity to be affected by their stories or the larger social injustices of which they're symptomatic. The ending, too, is an anti-climax that leaves you staring at the screen in vain expectation of several missing scenes, though some fine acting -- particularly by Rita Moreno (as the hotel owner) and the American mothers (especially cynical Lili Taylor and pushy Marcia Gay Harden) -- supplies some compensation.