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Baby Mama - DVD Review


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In case you haven't heard, not only is bitch â"the new black," but in line with Vanity Fair's ode to the fresh generation of comediennes taking center stage (â"Who Says Women Aren't Funny?") and looking fine while doing it, funny is also the new foxy. And two of the foxiest, funniest bitches out there are former SNL Weekend Update co-anchors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. So, it only seems natural that the reigning Mothers of Comedy put their political sketches aside long enough in order to make a big screen baby.

In Baby Mama, the new buddy/ romantic comedy dedicated to modern motherhood gone awry, Fey and her Poehler-opposite do just that, trading eggs and uteruses in order to bring surrogate baby mama drama to the suburbs of Philly. With their genuine chemistry and outrageous improv roots (not to mention a trailer showcasing a white trash Poehler urinating in Fey's finely-crafted pedestal sink), you'd expect nothing less than full-blown hysterics from the female tandem that loves to push the comedic envelope. Problem is, Fey - who served as head writer at Saturday Night Live, penned Mean Girls (in which she and Poehler co-starred), and single-handedly created the Emmy award-winning 30 Rock - didn't write this envelope. And it shows.

Fey is Kate Holbrook, an educated and highly successful woman whose independence and promotion-over-pregnancy philosophy led her to become the youngest VP in the history of Round Earth Organic Foods. Executive position. Posh Philly apartment. Six-figure bank account. Enviable single-gal-in-the-city status. What more could a woman, who seemingly has it all, possibly ask for? Well, when the sweet smell of baby powder invigorates you, the mere glimpse of tiny fingers and toes melts your heart, and the sound of your subtle biological tick suddenly takes on that of a car alarm, the answer is, a baby.

But at thirty-seven (and counting), it seems that spearheading a multi-million dollar construction project is easier than getting down to the business of making babies. You see, while spending her thirties chipping away at the glass ceiling, Kate's fertility rate was busy taking a swan dive. â"I just don't like your uterus," her gynecologist tells her. Apparently, Mom's ingestion of liver spot pills during pregnancy resulted in Kate developing a â"T-shaped" uterus; advanced age, plus weird uterus, equals better odds of hitting the Powerball, than actually getting pregnant.

Baby MamaUndeterred, Kate strategically places post-it notes encouraging her to â"Be Fertile!", but attempts at IVF result in a big, fat â"NO" on her pregnancy test stick. Adoption agencies wait-list her. And first dates whom she confide in about her immediate need to get pregnant are hailing taxis before the appetizers are served. Desperate not to miss the mother train - with or without a willing partner - Kate turns to Chafee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver), owner of an elite agency specializing in â"outsourcing" surrogates for the, shall we say, fertilely-challenged. It is through Chafee that Kate is introduced to the least-desirable of Philly wombs, Angie Ostrowiski (Poehler).

Complete with trailer park vocab, a penchant for anything Tastycake, and the ability to guzzle Dr. Pepper like its going out of style, Angie - in all her gum-snapping glory - forges an instant connection with Kate and ultimately agrees to put Kate's baby inside of her. But after a major blow-out with common law husband Carl (Dax Shepard), Angie - whose motives may be less than genuine - shows up on Kate's front steps in desperate need of a place to crash (and play karaoke) for the next nine months ... or so.

And as you could expect, crash they do. But while Kate and Angie fight through their distinct approaches to fetus-rearing - Tchaikovsky vs. DMX, organic vs. the Red Bull diet, dying to watch the latest birthing video vs. dyeing your black roots - they become friends along the way, discovering that sometimes, the best things in life are never planned.

Written and directed by fellow SNL alum Michael McCullers (Austin Powers sequels, Undercover Brother), Baby Mama surpasses most SNL-style sketches-turned-celluloid with ease, but hardly delivers the controversial laughs we expect (and want) from Fey putting her white collar eggs in Poehler's blue collar basket. With a fresh spin on the recent influx of pregnancy comedies (Knocked Up, Juno), and the comedic chops of Fey & Poehler at his disposal, McCullers had the goods to bring this film full term. But by trading cutting-edge satire for sugar, laughs for love interests, and improv for formula, McCullers finds himself milking jokes until dry (enter birthing instructor with a speech impediment) and barely scratching the surrogate surface.

That's not to say that Baby Mama doesn't have its laugh-out-loud moments; it most certainly does. (And to its credit, tackles adult issues with PG-13 humor rather than the raunch; a tough thing to do these days). In fact, it's hard not to contain yourself when Angie causes mass hospital destruction while screaming â"It feels like I'm $hitting a knife!", when Mom's (Holland Taylor) only familial advice is â"Please Kate, don't adopt a black baby," or at Kate's post-video game revelation: â"My avatar's dressed like a whore!" Problem is, these moments are not only few and far between, but they usually come compliments of improvisational seeds planted by Fey & Poehler.

Nevertheless, McCullers' well-intended Baby Boom meets The Odd Couple script makes up in charm for what it lacks in comedy. Aimed at those with XX-chromosomes, Baby Mama is surprisingly heartwarming among its humor, celebrating not only the strength of female friendships (even when they cut like a knife, sometimes you still can't cut the cord), but our modern ability to have it all (with or without the help of an XY-chromosome). And even though I got a little teary-eyed during one scene (am I... hormonal?), that's not to say that Baby Mama is a bona-fide chick flick. True, with topics such as motherhood, surrogacy, infertility, climbing a male-dominated corporate ladder, class and race, some female nerves will be struck. But comedy is an equal opportunity offender, and while Fey & Poehler poke mad fun at controversial issues without apologizing, they also have the uncanny ability of speaking to the sisters while hanging with the brothers. (Especially Poehler: â"Sorry I farted into your purse.")

Adding to the mama drama is an all-star supporting cast, including Romany Malco (The 40 Year Old Virgin) as the psychiatrist/ doorman who has baby mama drama times two; Greg Kinnear as the über-charming love interest; Maura Tierney (ER) as Kate's overly fertile sister; Holland Taylor as Kate's Mom who opposes her â"alternative" lifestyle (in other words, being 37 and no husbandry prospects); Dax Shepard as the epitome of white trash (â"I'm gonna bang all your friends. Consider them banged!"); and of course, the incomparable Steve Martin, who as Kate's New Age boss rewards her professional efforts with â"five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact." Classic.

Baby Mama is a fun, buddy-flick that undoubtedly has its complications - it's exaggerated, doesn't push enough, often falls flat as a result, and is purely predictable - but like it finds subtle humor in the most unlikely of places, it also finds friendship and family among the most unlikely of people. Who knows? Perhaps if the witty-writing style of Fey had taken the reigns, Baby Mama would have been filled with the non-stop laughs we expect from the Fey/ Poehler tandem trying to make a baby. The concept is surely pregnant with possibilities; but in the end, no matter how hard Baby Mama labors, it unfortunately never finds its true comedic kick.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
3 Stars
3 Stars
DVD Experience
3 Stars

DVD

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: English: DTS 5.1 HD; French: DTS 5.1 Surround; Spanish: DTS 5.1 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; alternate ending; writer/director's commentary; producer and cast commentary; making-of featurette; Saturday Night Live: Legacy of Laughter.

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, writer/director Michael McCullers and producer/SNL Exec Lorne Michaels
* Featurettes
o Saturday Night Live: Legacy of Laughter (3:12)
o From Conception to Delivery: The Making of Baby Mama (10:00
* Deleted Scenes -
o Alternate ending (2:23)
o Six deleted scenes (6:29)
* Previews

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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