Directed by: Michael McCullers
Premise: A successful career woman (Tina Fey) with a desire to be a mother hires a blue-collar slob (Amy Poehler) to be a surrogate. When the surrogate and her husband separate, the two women move in together and find their priorities and lifestyles in conflict.
What Works: Baby Mama adds a new twist–surrogate motherhood–to an old narrative concept: the odd couple. The film mines the intellectual, emotional, and practical preparations for motherhood and finds some new jokes there. The biggest revelation of the film is watching Amy Poehler and Tina Fey together. While the two have been successful costars on Saturday Night Live, Baby Mama gives the two women the chance to do more interesting work together and they form a terrific comedy team, Poehler as the screwball and Fey as the straight woman. Both are seasoned pros at comic timing, especially Fey who is known for her deadpan delivery. The actresses also get a few nice moments together to do some dramatic work and both deliver, especially Poehler, who is given far more to do dramatically and emotionally.
What Doesn’t: This film struggles to keep the laughs coming. Most of the humor is one sided, coming from Poehler. She does a great job, but the script just keeps repeating her doing and saying idiotic things and that gets tiresome halfway through. As the straight woman, Fey does not get much to do except react to Poehler’s shenanigans. Her relationship with a small business owner, played by Greg Kinnear, gives Fey a chance to do something, but the courtship, although sweet, is mostly glossed over and does not do much for character development or for laughs.
Bottom Line: Baby Mama is an enjoyable if disposable comedy. It won’t have anyone rolling in the aisles, but the film is fun for fans of the lead actresses and anyone looking for a sweet film with a few easy laughs.
Episode: #187 (April 27, 2008)