Andy Bockelman: 'Baby Mama' duo create comedic magic


What do you do when the person carrying your most precious cargo cannot comprehend its fragile nature?

The answer lies in the comedy "Baby Mama."

Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) is a Philadelphia executive whose only babies have been the prestigious projects she has developed in her job.

At age 37, the ticking of her biological clock is earsplitting, but she has little prospects in either adopting or carrying a child of her own, especially with her single status.

Her best bet is to hire a surrogate mother, which leads her to a partnership with Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler), a woman with sufficient fertility who could use the funds from the surrogacy fee.

Once Angie is impregnated, Kate assumes they will keep in touch only during ultrasounds and in the delivery room, but Angie soon winds up moving in with her.

Kate is glad to be a bigger part of the process but quickly becomes concerned that she was a little too hasty in her selection of a stand-in mother after witnessing Angie's destructive diet and her alarming aversion to nurturing the small life inside of her.

Fey is a fine lead, particularly in the company of Poehler, whose character is the type who laughs way too hard while watching "America's Funniest Home Videos" and is under the impression that Tom & Jerry are the best of friends.

The pair is easily the female equivalent of Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis or any other comedy duo.

Dax Shepard is as brilliantly butt-headed as ever as Angie's moronic common-law husband, Carl, while Romany Malco is fun as Kate's shrewd doorman, Oscar. Some surprisingly high-profile names fill out the supporting cast including Steve Martin as Kate's new-age obsessed boss, Sigourney Weaver as the fruitful proprietor of the surrogate agency Kate employs and Greg Kinnear as Rob, a smoothie shop owner who catches Kate's eye.

Although it bears quite a few resemblances to last fall's "The Brothers Solomon" (which starred Poehler's husband Will Arnett), the movie's humor is more astute and much less infantile.

The two gal pal stars, who have co-starred in "Mean Girls" and have co-anchored the "Weekend Update" of "Saturday Night Live," carry the story with their chemistry in multiple scenes, principally in a handful of sequences of musical nature, ranging from "My Endless Love," set in an operating room to a badly-sung interpretation of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

However, even with the comedic magic produced by the pair, there is little that makes the film all that outstanding, and with much more impressive pregnancy-themed movies such as "Juno" still in the collective unconscious, it gets easily overshadowed.

Perhaps if Fey and Poehler had taken a whack at the script, it would have been even better.

Although not incredible, "Baby Mama" certainly delivers laughs. Of course, with attributes such as a lisping birth instructor (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) and a top-of-the-line designer stroller with tiny airbags, who could object?


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