Friday, April 25, 2008

Baby Mama

“I just don’t like your uterus.”

Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) is a career businesswoman and a Vice President of a successful line of health food stores. Her life, however, is incomplete.

Informed by her doctor (John Hodgman) of her inability to conceive, and unable to wait for adoption, Kate decides to go in a different direction. She enlists the help of Chaffe Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver) who offers the service of uniting women wanting children with surrogate mothers.

Kate shells out $100,000 and finds white trash Angie (Amy Poehler) and her deadbeat common law husband Carl (Dax Shepard) on her doorstep. Angie agrees to carry Kate’s baby to term and before you can say shenanigans things get crazy.

Fey is well cast in the main role and balances the facets of the character with a grace I’m betting wasn’t on the page. The rest of the cast however isn’t as lucky. Poehler’s main role in the film is to act dumb, annoying, and weird, and keep getting into contrived situations (over the ninety-minutes she pees in the sink, binges Hostess cupcakes only to vomit moments later, sticks her used gum under the table, lies, and complains non-stop). Had the film taken her character as seriously as Fey’s there might have been something to explore here.

The movie also includes a subplot about Kate’s new relationship with a former lawyer and juice shop owner (Greg Kinnear). It’s by far the most honest relationship in the film but sadly is just getting started when it gets derailed for typical romcom plot points involving lies and misunderstandings which only occur in films like this and are later fixed just in time for the happy ending.

The humor of the film is also pretty hit and miss. For some reason the film believes health food is hysterical, and although it doesn’t give us much reason to accept the premise it demands we think so too. Of course the obligatory pregnancy jokes are here as well (including the birth video which drives the obligatory guy who sees it crazy). Although there are a few genuine funny moments, they occur only when the film isn’t trying so hard to push the expected easy joke.

Steve Martin and Maura Tierney show up for small roles in the film and provide some energy to the project, but aren’t granted much to do other than crack a couple of jokes and then disappear back into the unknown.

Baby Mama isn’t a bad film; it just isn’t a very good one either. When it stays away from pat formulaic jokes and situations you can see the film this could have been. On the other hand it could have been much worse. At least those few genuine moments save you from what otherwise would have been a complete waste of time.

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