Baby Mama Review

In Baby Mama, former Weekend Updaters Tina Fey and Amy Poehler re-team as a strong comic duo that rely on their perfectly honed and balanced chemistry—with Fey as the straight-lace and Poehler as the unstable one—to save a weak story that runs every course too quickly.

Tina Fey is Kate, a successful businesswoman jonesin for a baby. The problem is, she\'s single and she can\'t get pregnant—"I really don\'t like your uterus," her doctor tells her—and adoption apparently takes a very long time (Madonna makes it look so easy). So Kate buys some sperm from the bank and hires desperate-for-money white trash Angie (Amy Poehler) to be the surrogate mother. When Angie suddenly breaks up with her lout boyfriend Carl (Dax Shephard), she moves into Kate\'s luxurious apartment and the two strangers begin a turbulent friendship.

An immediate disappointment to this movie is that Tina Fey—who would\'ve had a better handle on the material and also provide the right kind of offbeat humor Baby Mama wanted—did not write it. The film is written and directed by Michael McCullers, a former SNL writer who co-wrote the Austin Powers trilogy with Mike Myers. It\'s hard not to notice the inconsistency of Baby Mama\'s humor. It\'s a leveled chick flick in one scene and then it nears Austin Powers in absurdity the next, populating the story with goofball side characters that, had this been a Mike Myers movie, would\'ve all been played by him.

It\'s a good thing producer Lorne Michaels filled every small role in the film with a comedy who\'s who, because their natural personas had to carry the script on a stretcher from one scene to the next. It helps, say, to see Will Forte as the ex-boyfriend Kate stumbles into at a club, as that inconsequential one-off character becomes amusing just because of Forte\'s mug. But the scene-stealer of the film has to be Steve Martin as Kate\'s boss Barry, a rich vegan hippie caricature that creeps my soul with his Bill Maher-like stare. Barry owns an organic food enterprise, sort of, which Kate is responsible for as Vice President. The way Martin mixes cockiness with buffoonery in Barry gives off a reasonably sure impression that someone handed him his wealth while he\'s out in India touching the soul of a jagged boulder.

Baby Mama would\'ve done better if it didn\'t half-ass a lot of its own zaniness just to keep the movie somewhat grounded in reality, because the jokey dialogue often misses and the movie draws its best chuckles when it allows Amy Poehler to run wild with her character\'s abrasiveness. Not surprisingly, Baby Mama\'s visual flair only shines during the odd moments of abandoning reality (a sequence where Angie receives Kate\'s eggs in the OR is uproariously edited and scored as if it was a love scene from a Fran Drescher movie)—otherwise, Baby Mama looks just like… well, like what you\'d expect a screenwriter\'s directorial debut to look like.

The film could\'ve been much more subversive under Tina Fey\'s comedy styling, especially if the focus of the story stays on Angie\'s fish-out-of-water situation and the Odd Couple dynamic between Poehler and Fey, but McCullers moves the attention away to a dull romantic subplot where Kate falls for a poor man\'s Jamba Juice store owner played by Greg Kinnear. Their attraction is confusing and somewhat out of place in the story, but it\'s required in order to have that predictable happy ending where every single character gets their way.

Baby Mama actually employs all the possible story twists to the surrogate mother scenario, flipping pregnancies back and forth like a light switch in a horror movie. In the end, despite the wacko characters dressing it up to be a cracked out farce, Baby Mama is just another tired motherhood fantasy with the same romanticized look at pregnancy. With a cast known for being wild and edgy, you\'d think they could afford to be a little bolder in their approach.

"Baby Mama" opens April 25, 2008 and is rated PG13. Comedy. Written by Michael McCullers.

Apr
25
2008
Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for Artboiled.com.

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