Published Apr 25, 2008Instead of the dick and fart jokes audiences have become accustomed to in an Apatow/Ferrell dominated comedy world, Baby Mama offers up some vagina and menstruation jokes, which for the most part are delivered quite well. Constant hilarity ensues when the two affable leads are on screen together, but the film lags with formulaic garble when they are forced to deal with their other less comedy-inclined co-stars.
Choosing career over family, Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) finds herself single at the age of 37 and wanting a baby. Unable to naturally carry a foetus of her own, she turns to a surrogate mother agency run by the insincere and surprisingly fertile Chaffee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver in another strong comedic role). She is matched with the white trash, karaoke singing Angie (Amy Poehler), who after impregnation breaks up with her retarded boyfriend Carl (Dax Shepard) and moves in with Type-A personality Kate, and comedy antics ensue.
While the actual script isnt particularly strong, featuring some weak jokes and uninspired character arcs, the performances make Mama worthwhile. Tina Fey has mastered the straight-(wo)man role, radiating condescension and delivering consistently amusing reaction shots. There are very few actresses who could use the word "taint in such an inspired manner. Also, Amy Poehler embraces her ignorant stereotype with gusto, keeping her over-the-top character surprisingly grounded, which only makes the sincere delivery of such bizarre dialogue that much more amusing. When the two are acting off of each other the film shines, offering relentless humour.
Perhaps this natural chemistry between the leads is what makes the other exchanges throughout the film so unwelcome. Sequences involving Steve Martin and Dax Shepard are almost always devoid of energy, and Feys relationship with Greg Kinnear feels somewhat forced.
Its easy to overlook the shortcomings of Baby Mama, as on the whole it delivers what it advertises. Some fresh female humour about stirrups and the anxieties surrounding the demands of juggling family with career are welcome in a male dominated comedy world. (Universal)