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Baby Mama is Beneath the Talent Onscreen

Baby Mama
Written and directed by Michael McCullers
Universal, 2008

Tina Fey, currently ranking around #1 of all the people I’d like to meet, created one of the most underseen comedies currently running on TV today, 30 Rock, a show that dances considerably around its competition in wit and intelligence every week. As such, it probably won’t last very long. It’s disheartening to think that more people are going to end up watching her new movie, a film that in the hands of Fey herself would have been a lot funnier.

In Baby Mama, Kate Holbrook (Fey) is a career-minded gal working for a health food corporation run by the pretentious Barry (Steve Martin). At 37, she starts thinking about having a baby, but her uterus is ill-equipped for the task, so she goes to a surrogate wrangler named Chaffee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver), who sets her up with the white-trash Angie (Amy Poehler), who will receive a fee for her trouble. Angie is in a primed-for-Springer relationship with Carl (Dax Shepard). Despite her rough edges, Kate is willing to take the chance for Angie to carry her baby.

Angie, though, keeps up her white trash ways and doesn’t want to eat right, she’s lazy, and overall disgusting. Kate has to reel her in. Soon, they actually start becoming like friends once they reach a happy common ground. But Angie is keeping a secret from Kate that threatens to screw up everything. Meanwhile, Kate finds love with juice store owner Rob (Greg Kinnear).

Fey keeps up her career trajectory by portraying another real, strong woman, and she and Poehler, along with the usual comic chops of Romany Malco, who plays doorman Oscar, are the only reasons why this movie isn’t just terrible. They keep it afloat, in that so-so territory. There are some things to absolutely hate: When Poehler says that “Health food is the reason Bruce Lee died,” Fey’s unlikely, unwitty response is, “Where did you read that? The Weekly World Dum-Dum?” Plus, an absolutely annoying performance by Siobhan Fallon (she played the wife of Vincent D’Onofrio in Men In Black), who plays a birthing teacher with a Bawbwa WaWa speech impediment, brings nerves to the fraying point.

Fey and Poehler deserve better, but they could have done worse I suppose.

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