Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Baby Mama (2008)

* *

There are very few comedies that be carried by two female leads into the realm of movie-lore. If there are two ladies up to the task, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler would be at the top of the list. Unfortunately, not even they are funny enough or consistent enough to take a film that starts behind the count from the title screen (Baby Mama? Awful) to such great heights. Written and directed by former Austin Powers and SNL writer Michael McCullers, Baby Mama is the story of Fey's character Kate, who cannot mother her own child and seeks Poehler's Angie to be the surrogate mother. The catch is the clash between Vice President, career woman Kate and trailer-dwelling, high school drop-out Angie in their effort to bring a healthy baby into the world. Literally everything that follows is exactly what everyone would expect. Every character, plot twist, scene, song, and situation is almost blatantly generic. Baby Mama is destined for USA/TNT re-runs and may have been more successful as a TV-movie. Despite the overwhelming flaws, Baby Mama contains a considerable number of laughs. Fey and Poehler are great on-screen together, and it's disappointing to see such talented actresses follow a huge laugh with a joke that has been recycled in twenty prior films. At times they look in prime form, but minutes later look like they know as well as the audience that the joke wasn't funny and appear to have a face that screams "I hope this doesn't make the final cut." It seems that if paired with a better writer or director, Fey and Poehler could make some good movies. The supporting cast is filled with big names which provide mostly average but some surprisingly funny performances. Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, and Sigourney Weaver are stale, but Steve Martin and Romany Malco (40 Year Old Virgin) do their best to give the film a bit of flavor. Not even a star-studded cast can save a bad story, particularly one loaded with horribly worn-out, stereotypical portrayals of African Americans, rednecks, and hippies plus odd references toward surrogacy, vegetarians, and other sectors of society. In the end, there are memorable laughs but only some women and huge Fey/Poehler fans will find it worth trudging through ninety minutes of blah to find them.

Good for: chick-flick fans, Tina Fey fans

Bad for: fans of Judd Apatow movies, 98% of the male population

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