Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) is on top of the world, having just been promoted in the job she loves, by her wholesome food store guru boss (Steve Martin), and is enjoying her beautiful Philadelphia apartment and financial security. Unmarried, with no immediate prospects for a husband, Kate is 37 and desperate to have a baby - to the delight of her sister Caroline (Maura Tierney). When told by a fertility specialist she has a million-to-one chance of falling pregnant, she visits Chaffee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver) head of a surrogacy centre, who introduces her to Angie (Amy Poehler), a potential surrogate. The now-pregnant Angie has a bust up with her man Carl (Dax Shepard) and turns up at Kate's doorstep with nowhere to live. Meanwhile, Kate finds romance with local juice-bar owner Rob (Greg Kinnear).
Review by Louise Keller:
There are plenty of laughs in this likeable and uplifting comedy that puts its own twist on life, love, relationships and babies. Baby Mama offers a somewhat different perspective of motherhood spring-boarding from recent films like Juno and Knocked Up by incorporating elements which allow the concept to become broader. Michael McCullers' script unashamedly goes for the laughs with outlandish characters and ridiculous situations that are somehow credible in the context, and keep it real.
There's a nicely balanced cast, too, with Tina Fey playing it straight as Kate, the successful career girl with a maternal twitch and Amy Poehler outrageous as Angie, the most un-angelic, would-be surrogate with problems of her own. Although we may not be able to read auras like Angie, it is not hard to see that conservative Kate and extroverted Angie are heading for a major collision as their relationship goes in unexpected directions. Add Dax Shepard as Carl, the hot-headed, sex-crazed, aspiring inventor and entrepreneur, Sigourney Weaver as the wonderfully named Chaffee Bicknell who sells surrogacy but does not practise what she sells and Greg Kinnear's Rob, the good natured, good health store owner to whom life seems to be apples. Steve Martin's pony-tailed hippie-guru is great fun, bestowing five minutes uninterrupted eye-contact as a special reward to deserving staff, and Romany Malco's doorman Oscar inadvertently becomes part of the crazy mix of events.
McCullers' script is full of quirky little things that, added together, generate a warm cumulative laugh. Things as small as the strange-shaped mug from which Kate's gynaecologist drinks his coffee and the unfortunately lisping birthing instructor whose explanations and exercises thound thtoopid. And the suburb named Dreery, where Angie and Carl live. This is a film that's as sticky as the bubble gum that Angie glues to the bottom of Kate's expensive coffee table, and I enjoyed getting stuck.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This formulaic feelgood romantic comedy delivers everything it promises with a streamlined screenplay about a single professional woman, Kate (Tina Fey) who at 37 is desperate to have a baby - and the complications that beset her plans. The story is strong and the characters are credible, if a little over emphasised in Hollywood's usual style. Fey bustles through her role with ease and Amy Poehler makes Angie a loose cannon as she blasts into Kate's orbit. Dax Shepard is excellent as the loutish, blokish husband, providing humour in every scene that he appears. Sigourney Weaver gets a juicy role as the successful surrogacy agent who is herself overly fertile (much to Kate's annoyance) and Greg Kinnear is solid as Rob, if a little under used.
Steve Martin introduces his own brand of comedic instability as the guru-like head of a health food store chain, with his tales of mixing with the rich and famous in exotic locations in the embrace of nature. His white ponytail perfectly complements the satirical portrait of a man in love with himself - naturally, of course.
Although men will probably find themselves resisting the film in the first act, with plenty of business about female fertility, the script soon broadens out and the inherent drama of the situation purrs nicely like an engine driving the comedic vehicle.
Production design is a little too predictable and gives both Kate and Rob apartments out of design magazines, but wardrobe is spot on and the pace keeps us engaged.
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BABY MAMA (M)
CAST: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Romany Malco, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Martin, Maura Tierney
PRODUCER: John Goldwyn, Lorne Michaels
DIRECTOR: Michael McCullers
SCRIPT: Michael McCullers
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daryn Okada
EDITOR: Bruce Green
MUSIC: Jeff Richmond
PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Swayze
RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 21, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.