Baby Mama (2008)
Poehler Opposites have a Baby
I think she wants me to rub olive oil on your taint - Kate
Over the past few years there has been a trend that comedies which make fun of personal matters go all out and over the top to get laughs from the situation. Think of "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up" and both feed on jokes which veer close and often go over the edge of being crude, which to be honest I am not complaining about because both movies are funny. But in away it makes a pleasant change that "Baby Mama" with its story about surrogate pregnancy for the most refrains from trying to be crude, delivering simple humour from the situation. It may all be very obvious and use an odd couple friendship which feels not that unlike a rom-com but it works and is pleasantly surprising.
Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) has always put her career first and now at 37 having climbed the corporate ladder in a an environmentally aware company she decides it's time to start a family. But unfortunately for Kate getting pregnant isn't that easy especially as she has only a one in a million chance thanks to her T shaped uterus. Not deterred she approaches the Chaffee Bicknell surrogate agency and thinks finally she will become a mother when her surrogate Angie (Amy Poehler - Blades of Glory) confirms she is pregnant. But when Angie movies in with Kate it becomes obvious that they are like chalk and cheese and it makes it a difficult 9 months, even harder than each could ever have imagined.
There is something rather familiar about the storyline to "Baby Mama" and whilst not a rom-com it does follow a similar path where Kate and Angie start of like chalk n cheese but end up becoming gal pals. What this means is we go from them initially being very different and annoying each other as Angie moves in with Kate but as they try to make each other a better person, plus a couple of romantic sub plots and a not so surprising spanner in the works they end up warming to each other. It is all very obvious and basically works the rom-com formula of a turbulent relationship but transfers it to the situation of friends and in doing so ends up surprisingly entertaining.
But whilst "Baby Mama" works a familiar formula it is fun and that is because it keeps the jokes simple, never trying to over complicate a joke even when you can see it coming a mile off. Whilst obvious you know that Kate will end up trying the karaoke game which Angie enjoys and will be just as bad at it and you also know that with Kate working for a Green, Health Food Company Angie will struggle with the wholesome food which Kate encourages her to eat, but it works. Yes occasionally it does try to hard and a scene where Angie is forced to find somewhere else to go when she can't get the baby lock off the toilet almost feels out of place. And sadly the same can be said of the character of hippie like business owner Barry because whilst Steve Martin tries to make him funny it all feels very forced which is a shame because for the most "Baby Mama" is fun thanks to being simple and unforced.
What is a bit annoying is that whilst most of the humour is obvious and you can foresee certain jokes cropping up long before they ever come close there are moments of inspired humour which almost catch you by surprise. The whole surrogate set up with Sigourney Weaver playing the agency owner Chaffee Bicknell is a perfect example as she explains that she set up the business because she saw a gap in the market for outsourcing pregnancy. It's just a shame than these clever gags end up being so few and far between as more inspired moments like these would have made "Baby Mama" more than just a fun but average comedy.
As for the performances, well with the exception of Steve Martin's hippie businessman the rest of the cast all deliver nice performances. Tina Fey is instantly likeable as Kate and the whole over efficient business like approach to pregnancy is amusing. And Amy Poehler is just as likeable as fun loving Angie, especially as she works so well with Fey to deliver the odd couple friendship element. Whilst Fey and Poehler are the stars of the movie they are assisted by the supporting performances of Greg Kinnear and Dax Shepard as the love interests. But it is Romany Malco as apartment door man Oscar who pretty much steals every scene with an over the top character which actually works well with all the simple humour.
What this all boils down to is that "Baby Mama" is a fun movie but it is a fun movie which is no more than average. Despite it basically following a path not to dissimilar to a romantic comedy the change of situation makes it enjoyable as do the performances. But whilst enjoyable it is annoying that there are some really clever gags which raise it to be more than average except they are too few and far between.
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