Baby Mama
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Baby Mama

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Sometimes humor can be found in the most serious subjects. Take the matter of having a baby. Traditionally this was one of the most significant steps a couple could take in life. In more recent years, many women have chosen to take on the difficulties of being a single parent. You might think that such a topic would be right for a comedy with Tina Fey begs to differ, as demonstrated in her latest film foray, ‘Baby Moma.’ It is all about a woman who is hearing the increasing sound of her biological clock. Ever since Marisa Tomei in ‘My Cousin Vinny’ stomped her foot on a Southern deck shouting ‘my biological clock is ticking,’ this phrase has been fodder for humor. This film looks at the plight that many women find themselves in; they are career given, no significant other insight, and they feel the growing pull towards motherhood. The film doesn’t quite meet some of its expectations, but it does have its moments. This is a simple little tale of a woman who wants a baby and the woman she hires as a surrogate. Of course, with such a relationship, there is bound to be a good deal of discord on which to base the humor and also gives plenty of room for some juvenile gags. Since the movie is massive on the estrogen, many would classify it as a ‘chick flick.’ In some ways, this might be true. There can also be a good case for a different genre of movie, the female-oriented comedy. Most comedy flicks do seem targeted for those of us with a ‘Y’ chromosome, but this is a proverbial horse of a different color. This is not a great film by any means, but it is entertaining and on the bottom line fun to watch. A movie doesn’t always have to make a point; sometimes, it is enough just to provide a chuckle or two. This is such a film. It is another example of a flick that you watch with a group of friends to unwind after a long, hard week at work. You don’t expect or need a message, just a little humor. Now, Universal has brought this flick to DVD and Blu-ray with just that kind of evening in mind.

The film was written and directed by Michael McCullers with a distinct but un-credited assist from Ms. Fey. McCullers began as a staff writer for Saturday Night Live, where he came in contact with Fey and many other regulars of the series. From there, he went on to writing for the attempts at movie careers for several of the SNL alumni. This includes ‘Thunderbirds,’ ‘Austin Powers Goldmember,’ and ‘Undercover Brother.’ While this is not exactly a stellar list of flicks to his credit, he does know his way around a light comedy. If you are going to lift a basic premise for a comedy, you might as well go for the best around. Here the plot maybe about a woman trying to have a baby. This is just the set up for the real foundation of the film. This is a female version of the odd couple. The formula is to take two completely different and opposed people and force them through circumstances to live together. This sets up all the required sight gags and physical humor that audiences have come to expect for a flick like this. Where Fey most likely came in for this story was helping McCullers better understand the female take on slapstick comedy. Fey is used to being a woman in a man’s world; she was the first woman to hold the position of the head writer on SNL. She has also worked extensively with her co-star Amy Poehler. The two not only worked together on SNL, most notably on the fake news segment but where in Fey’s ‘Mean Girls’ together. One of the most substantial aspects of this flick is the undeniable chemistry between these two women. There are not a lot of female comedy teams around, but they can go toe to toe with any male team currently on the scene. While McCullers’ script is rift with clichés, Fey and Poehler manage to extract humor anyway. Their background in improvisation and skit comedy helps since the movie is built like a series of sketches on SNL.

This is the first directorial effort for McCullers. It has to be challenging to move from a career in writing to direction, but McCullers is giving it a hardy try here. He does have the famous SNL movie curse to contend with. It seems that most films by former cast members go down in flames. The reason usually is they try to take a premise that would barely make for a five-minute skit and drag it out for 90 minutes or so. Here there are some aspects of this, but McCullers appears to have embraced this negative. He uses the quest for a baby as a foundation for a series of little domestic conflict situations. He doesn’t seem to take this film too seriously, and that is a good thing. All too many new directors try too hard to show off. McCullers knows he has a funny team at work here and just gives them the room to show their stuff. He provides just a hint of a romantic interest between Fey’s character and a man in the picture, but this is ultimately a movie about the two women. Again, it is like the ‘Odd Couple’ in that Felix and Oscar had girlfriends, but the show centered on their relationship.

Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) is a highly successful woman in the business world who is presented with an excellent opportunity to advance her career. She is also single and 37, so her biological clock is ringing, and there is no snooze button. She decides that the only way out is to get pregnant as soon as possible, but that avenue is not available to her. So, left with no other viable options, she decides to hire a surrogate. She winds up giving $100,000 to Angie Ostrowski (Amy Poehler) to carry the baby. Angie’s boyfriend, Carl Loomis (Dax Shepard), likes the idea of all that money. At first, Angie tries to scam Kate by pretending to be pregnant but, at an ultrasound examination, discovers she is carrying the baby. Angie argues with Carl and comes to live with Kate for the rest of the pregnancy. Kate is organized almost to the point of being obsessive. Angie, on the other hand, is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. She is a lazy, messy, chain smoker and drinker; all the things you don’t want in a biological mother.

There are elements of a romantic comedy present here, even though it is far from the traditional viewpoint. We get all the same ups and downs in the relationship that we would find in a romantic flick. The pair start practically hating each other, become friends, and they suffer a falling out before the closing reconciliation that we all know will happen. The movie holds together and will provide a fun time, and that is all. It is enough, so you should consider this for a light evening of light-hearted fun. Universal does well with the DVD and Blu-ray release of the film, as is to be expected from this studio. The video is in both anamorphic widescreen and Pan & Scan. The audio is a full Dolby 5.1, although the subwoofer is not used too much. There is also a good selection of extras, including the required making-of featurette, an alternate ending, and deleted scenes. There is also a retrospective of SNL sponsored by Volkswagen. Get this and have a little laugh or two.

Posted 08/29/08                Posted  03/15/2020

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