"Baby Mama" lacks a real heartbeat

April 29, 2008, midnight | By Monica Wei | 14 years, 3 months ago

Odd couple comedy delivers weak laughs

A reunion of former "Saturday Night Live" cohorts, "Baby Mama" strives to be a lighthearted and witty comedy. But despite the immense talents of the cast, the ludicrous situations and clumsy scriptwriting make the movie only sub par.

Tina Fey stars in her first big screen role since the earnest teacher in "Mean Girls" as a businesswoman and vice president of a big health food chain stricken by baby mania. At age 37, Kate Holbrook (Fey) feels her biological clock ticking, and desperately wants a baby. Sadly, her T-shaped uterus prevents her from conceiving, and she turns to a crude working class woman named Angie (Amy Poehler) for a surrogate pregnancy. Complications ensue after Angie leaves her deadbeat boyfriend and shows up at Kate's door. With the glaring differences in personality and lifestyle between the two women, tensions run high and "Baby Mama" turns into a standard Odd Couple comedy.

The story is endearing and feel-good funny but lacks a sense of realism or depth. Although entirely appropriate for a comedy, the predictable antics of "Baby Mama" are missing an earnestness that would have made the film both touching and funny. The interactions between characters, although silly and amusing, fail to reflect anything remotely close to genuine human emotion. The clashes between the workaholic Kate and childlike Angie, as Kate attempts to make everything perfect for her child to be, make for good comedy material. The film is quirky and elicits laughs, but the ridiculous situations that Kate and Angie find themselves in feel too superficial to become more than just silly.

Scriptwriter and director Michael McCullers' talent may have shown through in SNL, but certainly very little of then appear in his big screen debut. McCuller threw in everything he could think of, from the funny to the idiotic. The scene of Angie peeing in Kate's sink because she was unable to undo the childproof device on the toilet is funny, but Kate buying a ridiculous stroller with airbags just seems foolish.

Fortunately, the superb cast saves the film from collapsing into a puddle of superficiality. Fey emanates the earnestness that "Baby Mama" desperately needs. She falls easily into her character, bringing wit and sensitivity to the film. Poehler, despite looking too old for her part, is charming and endearing. Her caricature facial expressions bring an exaggerated humor to the film, but at times go over the top.

The supporting cast also has its gems, especially in the doorman of Kate's fancy Philadelphia apartment that looks more like it belongs in New York. Oscar (Romany Malco) is always in and out of Kate's apartment, carrying something or other for the two women. His quirky comments bring a breath of fresh air when the antics of the two women cease to amuse.

The storyline is predictable, the fun is lighthearted although shallow, but the stellar cast manages to save the day, making "Baby Mama" an amusing movie that otherwise would have been too superficial to enjoy.

"Baby Mama" (96 minutes) is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and a drug reference. It is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Monica Wei. Monica is an unfortunate piece of fruit that has been suspended in a gelatin cup. Okay, not really, but sometimes she feels like one. Monica the strawberry chunk enjoys reading, sitting in trees and watching the clouds go by. She thinks that anything tastes good … More »

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