Rated 3 out of five stars 

 

{mosimage}Baby Mama (99 minutes) a nice little comedy that does not take itself too seriously, offered a pleasant diversion in between Iron Man last week and Prince Caspian next week. Despite its two weeks prior release date, and the mid-afternoon weekday show, the movie played to a well-attended theater. During the movie, most of the (predominately female) audience chuckled out loud, proving that even if writer/director Michael McCullers practiced on male-oriented material (Austin Powers: Goldmember and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me), he can speak to women. The film fits nicely into the light comedy niche it tried for, although the No. 5 standing at the box office for the week of May 9 probably reflects the lack of competition in the female-focused comedy genre. Expect this film to disappear quickly when Sex and the City is released.

Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) is living every woman’s dream in the fabulous city of Philadelphia, with access to some of our nation’s best art museums, real Philly Cheese steaks, Tasty-Cakes, still reasonable housing prices, and a new football stadium. Inexplicably, despite her fulfilling career, enviable apartment, large family, and supportive sister (Maura Tierney) she is depicted as lacking something. First, as all successful career women know, without a boyfriend success is meaningless. Second, mirroring an all too common problem in today’s society, Kate put off having children while she selfishly pursued the career that she loved. This resulted in her womb drying up so that not only is she unable to have children, chances are no man will want her at her advanced age of 37, since she can’t produce a male child for him. Luckily, Kate finds a man, Rob Ackerman (Greg Kinnear) to deceive, and a Baby Mamma, Angie Ostrowski (Amy Poehler) to carry a child for her.  

At least, this is the plot one can read between the lines of this thinly veiled slap in the face to women who define success in ways that don’t involve a mess of squalling babies and lying for the sake of catching a man.  

Keep an eye out for Sigourney Weaver as the freakishly fertile Chaffee Bicknell and Steve Martin playing the new age executive, Barry. Last, but not least, witness the one-note portrayal of the doorman Oscar, by the usually dependable Romany Malco. Of course, we can’t blame Malco for this one. He acts well within the limits of the script. It is the director who fails to properly use this normally nuanced actor, reducing his character development to a background afterthought. I will skip pointing out the racial politics of this choice.  

This film revolves around playing Fey off of Poehler, a brilliant comedic team-up whose potential impact is sizably reduced due to the obvious reigning in of the female leads. Fey and Poehler know how to improvise, and one wonders at the possible improvement to Baby Mama were they allowed to do so more consistently. In any case, the trick to full enjoyment of this movie is to enter the theater with low expectations so you won’t be disappointed by what they actors and director got wrong. Instead, you can spend a couple of hours laughing at what they got right.

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