As odd as a couple of aspects of "Baby Mama" are, star Tina Fey is still likable enough and the writing still occasionally funny enough to make it work. The film stars Fey - in her first starring vehicle - as Kate Holbrook, an executive in her late '30's who wants nothing more to have a child. She's spent many years getting to where she is in the organic grocery company she works for (clearly modeled after Whole Foods) and now she wants to spend a little time working on her life outside of work. However, visits to adoption agencies aren't going well and neither are her attempts to have a child the old-fashioned way - her doctor states, simply, "I don't like your uterus."
So, running out of ideas, she decides to turn to an agency that specializes in surrogate mothers, lead by Chaffee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver), an older woman who is quick to remind everyone of how fertile she still is. For the fee of $100,000 she gets...not much: she's paired up with a crude young woman named Angie (Amy Poehler, also of "SNL") who drinks, smokes and is altogether not exactly what she had in mind.
Still, the two decide to go through with it, and after Angie has a fight with her boyfriend (Dax Shepard), she moves in with Kate. The two polar opposites don't exactly see eye-to-eye, but Kate tries to make it work - while Angie starts to feel terrible, as she's not exactly been honest with Kate. Kate also still has to face trying to open a new store for her boss (played by a hilarious and uncredited Steve Martin) and the start of a potential romance with a juice shop owner (Greg Kinnear) she met while scouting the neighborhood of the new store.
The best thing about the movie is Fey, who's created a persona that's best described as smartly awkward. Similar to her outstanding performance on "30 Rock", Fey here creates a character that's awkward, but manages to be awkward in a way that is relatable rather than making the viewer want to cringe. "Baby Mama" isn't as screwball or edgy or fast as "30 Rock", but Fey tries to make the most out of a fairly conventional plot. She's also terrific riffing off Poehler, as the two clearly have great chemistry with one another. Also very good in supporting roles are Kinnear and Weaver.
Still, while I had some good laughs with the film, there were a few things that bugged me about it, including a few plot holes and story points that stray from logic. While the plot takes a few less-than-believable turns, it also feels a touch thin, even at 99 minutes. Still, despite issues with the material, Fey and Poehler try their best and they manage to really get some good laughs (a slo-mo, drunken club dance sequence between the two of them is hysterical.) While I think Tina Fey is still capable of even better (see "30 Rock"), "Baby Mama" is a promising start if she's going to try a movie career.
VIDEO: "Baby Mama" is presented by Universal in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen & 1.33:1 full-frame, with each option located on opposite sides of a single-sided, dual-layer disc. The anamorphic widescreen presentation was watchable, but - at least for a new release - it was surprisingly uneven. Sharpness and detail varied throughout the movie, with the picture appearing mildly crisp at times and soft (almost to the point of a bit hazy) at others.
Other issues occured, as well, including some mild instances of artifacting and a few scattered occurances of edge enhancement - I even noticed a couple of specks on the print used. Colors had a natural, pleasing look, with fine saturation and no smearing or other faults. Flesh tones looked accurate, as well. Overall, I was a little surprised that a recent theatrical release was given what I think is a pretty average transfer.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack offered up exactly what one would expect from a comedy: limited surround use (aside from a couple of instances of music and some light ambience) and sound that is largely dialogue-driven. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, natural-sounding dialogue and clean, clear score.
EXTRAS: We get an audio commentary from writer & director Michael McCullers, producer Lorne Michaels, and actors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, as well as deleted scenes, a pretty weak alternate ending, an "SNL" featurette and "From Conception to Delivery: Baby Mama" featurette. The commentary track is laid-back and funny, with Fey and Poehler cracking jokes and the whole group offering some amusing insights - and the occasional technical tidbit - about the production.
Final Thoughts: "Baby Mama"'s plot has a few bumps, but Fey and Poehler make a terrific buddy team and the film's superb supporting cast (including a great little effort from Steve Martin) really mine some solid laughs out of the material. The DVD offers very average image quality and decent audio, along with a few good extras. Recommended.
The Film B-