Review: Baby Mama (2008)

Note: This article was originally published in Technician on April 23, 2008.


This Baby could have been worse

Note to self: In cases of infertility, adoption is the way to go.

According to Baby Mama, the alternatives to adoption -- namely, using a surrogate mother -- might be too chaotic to be worth the trouble. The film follows Kate Holbrook (30 Rock's Tina Fey), a successful middle-aged businesswoman who discovers she is unable to conceive. She hires Angie (Amy Poehler), a working-class housewife, to be her surrogate. It's a decision that takes a turn for the worse when Angie is kicked out of her home and comes to live with Kate. Of course, antics ensue, and what could have been a formulaic film turns out instead to be an above-average comedy in the vein of Knocked Up.

What's interesting about Baby Mama is that, while its main story arc is hit-or-miss in terms of jokes, it thrives in regards to minor characters and subplots. Sure, watching Angie go through her pregnancy is funny, but it's nothing that we haven't seen before in far better films. The movie shines when it takes time off from the pregnancy to focus on less-important minor character relationships. Greg Kinnear, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin all appear in supporting roles and steal every scene they're in. Why they weren't present in the film's advertising is beyond me, since even when an important plot point flops, you can count on them to lighten the mood and make you forget about the film's shortcomings.

Writer and first-time director Michael McCullers should be credited for making a film that, while not doing anything new, takes the tried-and-true methods of structuring a comedy and injects a little life into it. The film does have its predictable moments, but it also manages to pull some surprising twists.

Ultimately, Baby Mama isn't a great film, but it could have turned out a lot worse. Think of this as a less raunchy version of Knocked Up targeted at women. Though it's ultimately forgettable, it's a cute and clever flick perfect for watching with a date. Or your mom, for that matter.