Baby Mama ain’t no drama

If the Judd Apatow avalanche of hilarious yet undeniably male-centered comedies has irked you in any way, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have some great news for you. It’s a baby! Of comedy!

If the Judd Apatow avalanche of hilarious yet undeniably male-centered comedies has irked you in any way, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have some great news for you. It’s a baby! Of comedy!

Baby Mama stars Fey as Kate, a single, career-driven and infertile woman who wants nothing more than to have a kid, and as a result, turns to surrogate motherhood. She plants her fertilized eggs in crude-tongued working-class Angie’s (Poehler) uterus, who almost instantly after, breaks up with her boyfriend and unceremoniously moves into Fey’s condo. As the past year has shown, pregnancy is funny.

In all seriousness, this weird mish mash of Knocked Up meets The Odd Couple is pretty much hilarious. It’s no secret that old SNL buds Fey and Poehler are dynamite together, and their chemistry is definitely the backbone of the movie.

Starting out as complete opposites trying in vain to make their situation work (“I thought you should start eating organic now” Kate suggests, to which Angie responds, “Nah, that crap is for rich people who hate themselves”), by the end of the movie they’ve formed the predictable cross-cultural friendship bond. And were it portrayed by any other set of actresses, it might totally blow.

But the old-school plot trick of two opposites being forced to deal with each other feels fresh here, and watching the two of them go to clubs and birthing classes, continuously falling in love with each other, then driving each other to proverbial blows, is solidly entertaining. There are also some pretty decent plot twists that keep the movie’s action clipping along.

On that note, what’s odd about Baby Mama is that it wasn’t penned by Fey, who’s proven herself to be a great writer in the past (Mean Girls, 30 Rock). Instead it was both written and directed by Michael McCullers, whose previous writing experience includes Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me and previous directing experience includes, well, nothing.

But Baby Mama‘s directing is sometimes more impressive than the script. McCullers doesn’t try to draw out the drama of the movie or shove any grandiose message down our throats, he’s content to make lightning-quick cuts that keep the comedy going and insert funny shit at every corner for those who happen to catch it. Keep an ear out for the side effects of the “He-Tus” Angie buys.

McCullers definitely takes a few pages from the Apatow playbook (sex jokes, nonstop pop culture references, a just-right flirtation with gross-out humor), which is impressive considering its PG-13 rating. And he’s lucky to have not only Fey and Poehler, but also a whole ensemble of supporting actors that make up some of the best parts of the movie.

Sigourney Weaver plays an unbelievably creepy and fertile head of the surrogacy clinic. Dax Shepard makes a great antagonist in Angie’s uncouth, dim-witted not-boyfriend. Romany Malco (Jay from The 40 Year Old Virgin) starts out dangerously close to borderline-racist shtick, but ends up rounding it out and being quite possibly the most likeable and funny character in the whole flick. And Steve Martin has his first good role in, like, forever, as Kate’s egotistical New-Age-crazy pony-tailed boss (I’ll just say that sometimes his shirts are funnier than his lines, and his lines are pretty goddamned funny).

Speaking of which, while Baby Mama is set in Philadelphia, Portlanders in particular should see it because the movie might as well be set here. The organic grocery company Kate works for is basically Whole Foods, and the “up-and-coming” neighborhood they set up a new store in is basically every trendy district in East Portland.

Anyway, gentrification and class provide a good backdrop in Baby Mama,and thankfully McCullers doesn’t delve into the issue and sermonize. The tumultuous relationship between Kate and Angie provide enough thinking points for class differences, and everything else is left for neo-liberal comic fodder

With the exception of a just-OK performance by Greg Kinnear and a soundtrack that boggles the mind in its vapidness (Hey McCullers. You get a Mulligan because it’s your first time out, but seriously dude, hire a different music director), Baby Mama is an awesome breath of comedic fresh air. Even if it is another freaking pregnancy movie.