22 April 2008 | jaredmobarak
My avatar is dressed like a whore
Say what you will about the marketing machine, but I truly think the people behind promoting Baby Mama did a bang up job
even if I believe they did so without trying. They make expectations so low in the trailer that you almost have to enjoy the film. Was it a great comedy? No. However, it was much better than I ever could have hoped as Michael McCullers takes us places you never would expect going in. I thought that it would be a water-downed, overlong SNL skit with one woman asking another to carry her baby, leading to a generic odd couple pairing with hijinks and gags piling on top of each other, collapsing under its own weight. Instead we are treated to a pretty sentimental and touching portrait of two women learning to grow and evolve with help from the other, a person, in both regards, that they never would have thought could teach them anything. Even the pregnancy aspect takes a ton of twists and turns never becoming the straight shot gimmick just bringing everyone together. The surrogate mother here must make some tough decisions as she continues along on her journey, lending a side to the tale that actually brings it to a level of intrigue that no Lorne Michaels film has done in recent memory.
I don't want to ruin the plot points of Angie Ostrowiski's pregnancy, but let's just say it isn't cut and dry. Her motives aren't genuine, something that is obvious from the start, just not quite in the way you anticipate. There are surprises for her and secrets hidden from the other characters as she wrestles within herself. A "white-trash" loser, attached to a man that believes waiting on the phone to be the 132.7 caller is a job, Angie learns a lot while with mom-to-be Kate Holbrook. Kate, being the professional VP of an organic food market, is a very detail orientated woman who is by the books and unafraid to tell others what they should do. It is an oil and water connection, butlike all good relationships of this kindbreeds some real funny and touching moments. Who thought watching Karaoke on the Playstation could be so much fun? Sure many instances feel like skits written separately and plugged in later, (the clubbing while pregnant, the press conference ambush, and the surrogate therapy sessionprobably the funniest scene without question), but they are surprisingly strung together to make a pretty coherent whole.
The other thing that the trailer hides is the inclusion of two great male roles. Did anyone know that Greg Kinnear and Steve Martin were in this thing? I for one was completely surprised by both, almost chuckling that they would have a small cameo until I realized that both were key roles to the whole. In the best turn of the film, Steve Martin is crazy, hippie genius. His earthy style of living, complete with long ponytail and soft speech, even when angered, is classic, as is everything uttered from his mouth. He is so good that I would be thrilled to have him offer me 5 uninterrupted minutes of staring into his eyes as a reward for a job well done. For Kinnear's part, he plays the usual love interest that is commonplace in films of this ilk. It's not flashy and it's not very original, but Greg is a stalwart and pulls off the good guy persona, even including a little bit of physical humor at the end.
Overall, though, this film is pretty standard fare. It goes into very broad comedy at times and very sappy/overly-sentimental drivel at others. There are some good jokes sprinkled throughout and for the most part keep it fun for the duration. Definitely feeling longer than it is, I never quite felt bored and I did begin to get invested in the story to see how it all would turn out. A lot of that can be credited to the chemistry between Tina Fey and Amy Pohler as Kate and Angie respectively. Both these women do a great job with their roles, fleshing out the psychotic relationship to perfection. One of the successful dynamics is how Fey becomes a mother figure to her surrogate. Even going so far as having temper tantrums and rubber-faced reactions, Pohler is a child.
It's also nice to see some fun moments from the supporting cast, but again nothing really sticks out to vault anything into must see territory. Sigourney Weaver is actually kinda scary in a very weird role; Romany Malco has plenty of great one-liners and facial expressions; and John Hodgeman is a bit odd in a small bit, with laughs coming more from the recognition of his Mac commercials than anything he does in the film. In the end, while nothing over-achieves, it all adds up to a pretty solid comedy worth a view. Is it necessary to see on the big screen? Probably not, but if you were worried that it might be a train-wreck, just know that it never takes any chances to risk derailing, and that's not a bad thing.