' Cinema Romantico: Baby Mama

Monday, April 28, 2008

Baby Mama

To be honest with you, I'm a Tina Fey fan. I am. For my money I don't know if it gets any better then her on "30 Rock" running on the treadmill at six in the morning while simultaneously swilling white wine. I celebrate the woman's entire catalogue.

While we're at it, I also find much enjoyment from the comedy of Amy Poehler and sincerely hope she escapes the purgatory of Saturday Night Live sooner rather than later.

I mention these two facts not simply because they're the stars of the new comedy "Baby Mama" but to assist you in understanding exactly why I went to see it since it's not a movie that would seem to call out my particular name. It's the story of business woman Kate (Fey) who at 37 has had a great deal of success on the job but has never been married and now desperately wants to have a child. Of course, the only drawback is her doctor sets the odds for her conceiving a child at 1 in a million and the adoption wait is 5 years long. Enter Fey's former Weekend Update partner in crime Poehler as Angie, the white-trash title character looking to score some cash while giving Kate - as "Juno" might have said - "the gift of life. Sweet, screaming, pooping life."

Needless to say, the hijinks are afoot and I'll leave it to you to determine whether or not Angie is really pregnant or whether or not Kate meets a handsome juice shop proprietor played by Greg Kinnear who she really seems to like only to have him discount the wonders of Surrogate Motherhood at the precise instant Kate is about to tell him about her case of Surrogate Motherhood and whether or not Angie comes to a greater meaning of exactly what it means to be a mother. Wait, have I given away too much???

The movie just sort of hums along in neutral the entire time, playing it safe, not really reaching for anything you wouldn't expect, though the chemistry between Fey and Poehler, as always, is able to save the film from descending into complete crappiness. Have you ever listened to a CD with, say, 13 tracks and every track is kinda' mid-tempo and then every once in awhile there comes a moment when you sense a song is on the verge of taking things up a notch and rocking out and then, nope, it just droops right back into that mid-tempo shuffle? That's "Baby Mama" in a nutshell.

There is, however, a theme that emerges, though it has nothing to do with the movie itself. Steve Martin plays Fey's new-age boss ("I'm going to reward you with five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact") and that casting choice is vital. The movies for which Martin has written the screenplay are almost always dynamite: "Roxanne", "L.A. Story", "Bowfinger". But the films in which Martin only stars, films like "Bringing Down the House" and "Cheaper by the Dozen", are often exercises in excess of schlock. Likewise Fey writes the aforementioned "30 Rock" (i.e. Currently the Best Show on TV) and also penned the screenplay for the above average "Mean Girls". But in "Baby Mama" Fey only stars while someone named Michael McCullers wrote and directed.

I would like to take this moment to urge Ms. Fey to get involved in a project from here on out only if she's directly responsible for its initial creation.

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