The Video Store Days #11: Three Men and a Baby...And a Ghost?

Today, on this installment of THE VIDEO STORE DAYS, we remember that time when the nation believed that there was a ghost in the box office smash, THREE MEN AND A BABY and how it belongs in THE VIDEO STORE DAYS "Hall of Fame"

Let’s talk about THREE MEN AND A BABY for a minute. 

THREE MEN AND A BABY was a comedy that was released in November of 1987 and was the biggest film of that year. Imagine that, a comedy about starring three actors without any special effects in it and no one dies being the number one film of the year it was released. Something like that is unthinkable nowadays. 

After the film had been out for a while, I came home from school to my mother wanting to go to the video store.

“We have to go to the video store right now!” My mother said as soon as I walked in the door.

“Ok” I replied as I was never one to argue about going to the video store. 

“We have to rent THREE MEN AND A BABY. There’s a ghost in the film.” She said.

“A ghost? Ok?” I replied, not believing her one bit.

We drove up to R&R Video to see if we could get the film, but the word was already out and every copy they had was rented out. They put us on to a list they had going for the film and told us they would call us when it came in. 

The next day at school was filled with endless talk about the ghost in THREE MEN AND A BABY. We couldn’t really think of anything else to talk about and there was endless speculation about the hows and the whys. Some said it was a kid who killed himself in the very loft that the film was shot at. Others said it was a kid who was murdered in the building and haunted it. There was even a rumor that the kid lived above the loft where the film was supposedly shot and he killed himself because he couldn’t stand the noise the film crews were making and was haunting the film because of it. So many rumors and things we just made up. 

One day,  a friend called me after school and told me that his parents had gotten a copy of the film and that I could borrow it to show my parents. I went over to his house and he showed me the scene. He didn’t tell me where it was in the scene, so I had to figure it out. We watched the scene a few times and I didn’t see it. He told me to pay attention to the windows and then I saw it. There was what appeared to be a little boy, maybe ten years old, standing behind the curtains in a window in the background of a scene. It was actually kind of creepy. We watched it a few more times before I took the tape back to my house to show my parents. They too were weirded out by it.

For the next few weeks, the ghost was all we could talk about. Then it faded away like a fart in the wind. We stopped talking about it and we soon moved on to something else. Then, a few years later, it was proven what this thing actually was. There is a scene that happens earlier in the film, where we see that Ted Danson’s character has all of this stuff that features his likeness on it. There is a cardboard standee that features Danson in a tuxedo. This is our ghost. You put that behind the curtains and it put it slightly out of focus and it can look like a young boy. Now, make the center of attention in the scene a guy and a lady talking and take our focus to them and people start talking. When people start talking, things get made up. This is how urban legends get going.

In 2017, Tom Selleck appeared on *shudder* THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON and he talks about the rumor and makes a very quick mention that Disney put the rumors out there to drive up sales and rentals on the VHS. Fallon, being one of the worst interviewers of all time, never latches on to this and it is barely mentioned again at the end of the interview. This would actually make sense given the timelines and the fact that when THREE MEN AND A BABY started to fade from the rental charts was when Disney started having problems with flops and losing tons of money. 

NOTE: I am not going to link the Jimmy Fallon interview as I don't want to give that man any more attention than he already has. He doesn't deserve it. However, if you want to see the part where Selleck talks about THREE MEN AND A BABY all you have to do is google "Three Men and a Baby ghost". It will be one of the first videos that pop up.

About a year or so ago, a TikTok user posted a video with a theory about the 2001 animated film SHREK. The theory was about the Three Bears, who are background characters in the film that actually have a story. The first time we see the Three Bears, they have been captured by the Lord’s men and thrown into two cages. Mama and Papa Bear are in one cage while Baby Bear are in another. Later in the film, after all the fairy tale characters have been released into Shrek’s Swamp, we see Papa Bear and Baby Bear sitting on a log. Baby Bear has his head on Papa Bear’s chest while Papa Bear has his arm around Baby Bear. Baby Bear appears to be crying. Mama Bear is not seen at all. So, where is Mama Bear? Even further into the film is where we get our answer: A scene in the Lord’s castle reveals that Mama Bear is now a rug.

I love this discovery because people still want to watch films and discover things about those films. When I saw this post, I immediately thought of the ghost in THREE MEN AND A BABY. Something in the background of a film gets brought to the front and people start talking about that film again. The problem that I have with this particular situation now is that it has become too easy to view whatever it is that someone found. Back in the day, we had to drive to the video store and rent said film. If they did not have it in, they would add your name to a list and they would call you when your name has come up. Then you had to watch the film and find the scene that everyone is talking about. There was a sense of discovery to the whole thing that brought a sense of fun to everything. Nowadays, we see a video on whatever platform is popular that shows us exactly when the thing was found and the actual scene. There is zero sense of discovery. It’s nice to see it and then remember it for a future viewing, but actually trying to find the thing that everyone is talking about was just fun.

This was just something I started to think about when I was in the shower one day. I usually have most of my best ideas when I stand in the shower and I wanted to go down memory lane with this one.

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