BABY MAMA

PG_13, 99 min, 2008

Director: Michael McCullers
Writer: Michael McCullers
Stars: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Sigourney Weaver

Here is a sitcom that could’ve been stupid, but isn’t, that could’ve been stale and unfunny, but isn’t, that could’ve been boring, but isn’t, that could’ve been edgier, but isn’t.

Baby Mama stars Tina Fey as Kate Holbrook, a fast-tracked Philadelphia businesswoman working for Barry (Steve Martin), a ponytail-wearing, Zen master-esque health food guru. Kate has spent her whole adult life focused on her career, while her sister (Maura Tierney) just goes about suburban parenthood like it’s the most natural thing in the world, and now she’s feeling the ticking of her biological clock.

It’s not long before Kate discovers she has a “T-shaped uterus,” prompting her OBGYN (John Hodgeman of The Daily Show and those Mac vs. P.C. commercials with Justin Long) to say that he doesn’t “like her uterus.” This leads Kate to consult a surrogacy program run by a freakishly fertile older woman named Chaffee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver) in order to find someone to make a baby and carry it for her. Enter Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler, Fey’s former “Weekend Update” partner on Saturday Night Live), a tasteless, classless small town girl whose deadbeat husband Carl Loomis (Dax Shepard of Zathura) is a failed “inventor/entrepreneur.”

Unfortunately for Kate, Angie’s got a secret which she is finally forced to confide in the insightful, observant and clever doorman (Romany Malco from Weeds) at Kate’s apartment building. As Kate’s excitement over being a mother grows, so does Angie’s guilt over…the less said the better. Meanwhile, Kate meets a Jamba Juice-esque health drink store owner (Greg Kinnear) and the prospects of a good man in her life suddenly improve.

The film is the directorial debut of Michael McCullers, an SNL staff writer who also co-wrote the last two Austin Powers films. Fey is a master at playing the geekish bespectacled brunette with neuroses up the ying-yang, and the comparably insane party girl is right in Poehler’s wheelhouse. The performance which took me by utter surprise (played entirely for laughs) is that of Steve Martin, whom I started laughing at the moment I first saw him, before he even said a line of dialogue. His health food mogul is something to see. So the plot is not wildly unpredictable, and it’s PG-13 so it’s pretty mild in the style of its humor, but it is quite funny.

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