Film Flashback: Baby Mama (2008)

K.C. Bailey/Universal Studios
(From left) Single businesswoman Kate Holbrook (TINA FEY) explains the rules to her surrogate, working girl Angie Ostrowiski (AMY POEHLER) in “Baby Mama.”

Babies, babies, babies everywhere!

What’s the best option for the single, upwardly mobile career woman finally ready to have children but learns she’s infertile?

If having Amy Poehler (“Horton Hears a Who!”) serve as a surrogate mother sounds like a good option, you’re going to love “Baby Mama.”

Kate (Tina Fey, “30 Rock”) wishes she could experience motherhood or at least the idealized version of it she has in her mind, despite her sister Caroline (“ER” star Maura Tierney — a far more talented actress than this glorified cameo would indicate) [2012 FF: I continue to be both amazed and astonished that of the “NewsRadio” gang, Joe Rogan has arguably had the most successful career] showing her the reality of raising a child.

With adoption out, she opts to try surrogate motherhood or as Chaffee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver, “Vantage Point”) the head of the surrogate company calls it “outsourcing.”

K.C. Bailey/Universal Studios
(From left) Mother-to-be Kate Holbrook (TINA FEY), surrogate center head Chaffee Bicknell (SIGOURNEY WEAVER) and surrogate Angie Ostrowiski (AMY POEHLER) discuss plans.

Angie (Poehler) decides she’ll have Kate’s child, which causes problems with her boyfriend Carl (Dax Shepherd, “Smoother”) forcing Angie to crash with Kate.

Fey, has perfected the uptight role and Poheler is like a ball of energy on screen and you never know what she’ll do next. She keeps Angie unpredictable without being so silly that she’s unrealistic — where most comedies go wrong.

K.C. Bailey/Universal Studios
Single businesswoman Kate Holbrook (TINA FEY) attends Lamaze with her surrogate, working girl Angie Ostrowiski (AMY POEHLER).

Fey and Poehler have great chemistry and they truly compliment each other well and when they’re doing a karaoke version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” you honestly buy into it and it’s a treat being invited to their private party.

“30 Rock” is great, but why hasn’t some TV exec tried to get Fey and Poehler a sitcom vehicle? [2012 FF: Or another movie starring these two….]

Greg Kinnear (“Feast of Love”) plays Fey’s love interest Rob and the two make a very believable couple, albeit one where they constantly try to be more sarcastic than the other.  [2012 FF: It almost seems like I’m implying that’s a bad thing…] Steve Martin has a great cameo as Kate’s eccentric boss.

K.C. Bailey/Universal Studios
Single businesswoman Kate (TINA FEY) awkwardly meditates with her boss, Barry (STEVE MARTIN).

Surprisingly, Fey, the former lead writer for Saturday Night Live and current star/writer of “30 Rock” doesn’t handle the film’s writing responsibilities.

That’s left in the hands of Michael McCullers, who also makes his directorial debut.

McCullers knows funny — he’s collaborated on the scripts to “Undercover Brother” and the last two “Austin Powers” films [2012 FF: Clearly written before I re-watched “The Spy Who Shagged Me”…]— and his script here is really funny at times, but I couldn’t help but wonder how a Fey-penned script would have fared. [2012 FF: New rule. Fey MUST write her own material from this point forward!]

Not that a guy can’t write a funny movie with female leads, but Fey likely would have avoided some of running jokes and the standard “movie moments.”

There’s some unnecessary drama and twists that make the film heavier than the subject matter really needs [2012 FF: The entire subplot with Carl didn’t do anything but drag the movie on when really all we want to see is Fey and Poehler have fun.] but in the end it all works out well for everyone like every good comedy should.

K.C. Bailey/Universal Studios
Mother-to-be Kate Holbrook (TINA FEY) and surrogate Angie (AMY POEHLER) trash an ex-boyfriend’s car.

The bar for Saturday Night Live TV stars making feature films is admittedly very low but “Baby Mama” is definitely one of the best. Were it not for “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” this would be a solid lock for the year’s big comedy hit. As is, this is yet another very good option for those who want to sit back and enjoy an actual funny comedy. [2012 FF: “FSM” was my comedic yardstick for two years until “She’s Out of My League’s” arrival. The two remain in my heavy rotation when I need a quick laugh. This one? Not so much, but it’s still good for some laughs.]

Rating: 7 out of 10

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