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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Baby Mama

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Judy Thorburn

"Baby Mama" - Fey and Poehler Deliver Despite Uneven Script

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"BABY MAMA" - Fey and Poehler Deliver Despite Uneven Script



Adoption, pregnancy, and motherhood are hot topics among the Hollywood elite these days. Marriage appears to be secondary and possibly not even a thought in the minds of a growing number of young starlets and older actresses who are proudly showing off their “baby bump” or adopting children (many from third world countries) without a husband. Considering that this baby boom, regardless of wedlock, appears to be the “in” thing, Baby Momma is a timely big screen comedy that looks at the issues of a single woman and how she goes about achieving motherhood. In this case the premise involves the enlistment of a surrogate to carry the baby an unmarried woman is unable to carry herself.

Talented writer (she scripted Mean Girls) and actress Tina Fey (creator and star of TV’s 30 Rock) and her off screen best friend, Amy Poehler, both veteran comediennes who worked together on the comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, are teamed in this female “Odd Couple” mixed with Baby Boom, the 1980’s flick starring Diane Keaton.

Fey plays Kate Holbrook, a high powered, successful, single businesswoman who has been newly promoted to V.P. of development at Philadelphia’s Round Earth Food (think Whole Foods) Organic Market. Kate has always put her career instead of her personal life first until now, when she comes to realize her biological clock is ticking away. At 37, with no boyfriend, and desperate to be a mother, Kate is bummed when her gynecologist informs her that her uterus is, in simplest terms, not baby friendly and her chances of conceiving is about one in a million. A trip to a sperm bank proves disappointing when pregnancy tests come back negative. Not wanting to adopt, Kate then decides to pay a visit to a surrogate parenting agency led by fifty something, yet still fertile with a newborn, Chaffee Bricknell (a very funny Sigourney Weaver) who sets her up with Angie Ostrowiski (Poehler) a low class (make that white trash) pixyish blonde that seems ready and willing to take on the responsibilities of carrying Kate’s fertilized egg, especially since it comes with a nice fat monetary reward. Needless to say, as is expected, all does not run smoothly when Angie moves out on her scheming, common law husband Carl (Dax Shepard) and winds up on the door step of Kate’s upscale apartment looking for a place to live.

Along with a suitcase, Angie brings the kind of personal baggage that would make Felix from the Odd Couple cringe. Like Felix, Kate is tidy, meticulous, and organized while Angie is her total opposite; a smoker, drinker, junk food addict, and a slob which comes to light as soon as Angie makes herself at home. For example, after Kate has child proofed the house in preparation for her baby, Angie frustrated from not being able to open the lock on the toilet seat lid, doesn’t think twice of squatting in the bathroom sink to pee, or for that matter leaving chewed gum under the pricey coffee table, which leads to confrontations of the humorous kind.

Adding additional conflict to the plotline is Kate’s new love interest (what a surprise - not!) Greg Kinnear as Rob Ackerman, a charming, good liking, single father and owner of Super Fruity Smoothies, a juice bar not unlike Jamba Juice (which must have paid for a pretty penny for all the plugs), that is located in the downtown area where Kate is planning on opening another store franchise.

Other supporting players include scene stealer, Steve Martin as Kate’s New Age guru boss (looking strangely like George Washington, sporting a long, white haired pony tail), Holland Taylor as Kate’s caustic mom, Moira Tierney as her liberal sister, former SNL player Siobhan Fallon as the birth class teacher who sounds an awful lot like Elmer Fudd, and Romany Malco as Kate’s wisecracking doorman. Plus, there are also some cameos from several other SNL cast members which comes as no surprise since Lorne Michaels, the man behind SNL, is the film’s co-producer.

Most of the humorous scenes are drawn from the interaction between Fey, the thinking man’s sex symbol, and adorable and wacky Poehler, two comically gifted female leads that aren’t afraid to do anything for a laugh. While there are indeed some funny moments, it is the natural chemistry between the women that drives the film.

Instead of taking a harder look at the subject matter that entails baby obsessed women, conception procedures, and the acceptance of unwed mothers, writer/director Michael McCullers (who penned two of the Austin Powers flicks) plays it safe with a good natured message about how opposites can learn a thing or two from each other. Unfortunately, he also misses some great comic opportunities from the very capable funny ladies.

Instead of creating consistent laughter in what could have been a biting satire, the film is predictable and lacks energy. Despite great teamwork from Fey and Poehler, Baby Momma provides an uneven delivery.