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Did You Say Placenta or Polenta?: And other questions for your Baby Mama 

Careful, they will suck your eyes out.Baby Mama is like a mini "Saturday Night Live" reunion, including a droll turn by Steve Martin at his

click to enlarge Careful, they will suck your eyes out.
  • Careful, they will suck your eyes out.
Careful, they will suck your eyes out.Baby Mama is like a mini "Saturday Night Live" reunion, including a droll turn by Steve Martin at his best. The comedic lineup also stars former SNL head writer, turned mega star Tina Fey and current cast member Amy Poehler, playing off one another here as a 37-year-old wannabe mom and her foil, the trashy surrogate mother. The stand-in motherhood topic is always a hot one, as evidenced by its recent place on the cover of Newsweek magazine.

 
In the movie, Fey plays Kate, a single, successful businesswoman experiencing a sudden storm of maternal instincts. Since she is unable to conceive naturally, she resorts to using an agency for finding a surrogate mother to have her baby. As a well-meaning, type-A personality, she obsesses about everything to do with motherhood/babyhood, causing her to install over-the-top safety measures and devices in her home, while imposing strict dietary rules, creating some amusing consequences. Poehler plays the karaoke-crooning surrogate mother, Angie, who wolfs down Twinkies while constantly feuding with her dirtball boyfriend, Carl (excellently rendered by Dax Shepard). And although Angie takes a while to crank up the humor, by the time she arrives at the hospital, even her attendees can't keep straight faces.


Exuding a groovy Santa Fe-style aura (including a long white ponytail) Steve Martin plays Barry, the fabulously wealthy owner of an organic grocery chain, Round Earth Foods. A new-age guru, Barry remains almost expressionless as he brags, name-drops, and rewards his VP, Kate, with five minutes of head-to-head "uninterrupted direct eye contact." He goes so far as to request that his flagship store possess the "essence" of the seashell he holds in the palm of his hand.

Sigourney Weaver shines darkly as Chaffee Bicknell, a business owner who connects clients to surrogate mothers. She's a 60-year-old still having babies, purposefully causing her clients to seethe with jealousy. And the ever-endearing Greg Kinnear turns up as Rob, a burned-out lawyer turned juice bar proprietor. His knitted brow connotes a range of emotion from worry, to compassion, to dead-pan humor.

Perhaps the biggest source of hilarity, though, is the series of birthing classes that Kate and Angie attend, presided over by a coach whose lisp creates the impression that she's constantly speaking in baby-talk. For massaging the peritoneum, the coach recommends "EVOO," celebrity chef Rachael "no neck" Ray's famous acronym for extra virgin olive oil. The other class participants provide plenty of fodder for more gags, including a culinary comparison of the placenta to polenta.

Baby Mama also lampoons recent "green" food trends, especially those that translate into money, such as organic food at the corporate level. The choices at one hip restaurant are green algae, blue algae, or a gooey yeast roll.

There are some weak moments too; for instance, I have no idea what purpose the muddled court-room scene is supposed to impart, other than emotionally feeble "filler." The saccharine music moments signaling us to take a few scenes seriously are just... sappy. For most of the film, though, Baby Mama provides a raucously knee-slapping good time.

Baby Mama ★★★✩
Starring: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Martin, Sigourney Weaver and Greg Kinnear. Directed by Michael McCullers. Rated PG-13. 

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