PREGNANT WITH IMPOSSIBILITIES
by Kevin Bowen
published April 25, 2008
now playing nationwide
It came to light recently that
America might be jumping into a new baby boom.
Birth rates reached their highest point since
the early sixties. One only needs to tool around places like Stonebriar Mall in Dallas – where the wise pedestrian takes out a stroller
collision policy – to see the new America emerging from the womb.
Hollywood, with the greatest demographers that wooden Keanu Reeves performances can buy, is naturally up with the curve.
Which could explain why there has been a rash – ha! – of pregnancy comedies being dropped off by the stork at a theater near
This week it’s Baby Mama, the first
out-front role for a familiar bespectacled face – Saturday Night Live writer/performer Tina Fey. Playing a neurotic victim of a narrow
uterine channel, the organic foods executive sees baby faces everywhere she goes. It’s starting to take over her life and her job, managing
the company for a swim-with-the-dolphins eccentric (a scene-eating Steve Martin; we don't know if celluloid is
To hit the snooze button on the cruel
biological clock inside, she throws her eggs and her money into a surrogacy clinic headed by the very fertile Sigourney Weaver. The clinic
employee in charge of matching mother and surrogate must have a real eye for comic premises. For the upscale, uptight Fey, he sends over an
Odd Couple opposite, an uneducated skank (SNL’s Amy Poehler) with a smoking habit, a drinking habit, and probably other habits we don’t want
to know about. Soon Fey is buying her health food and driving her crazy. Poehler is chomping on Cheetos and peeing in her
And then, Heavens to Betsy, they’re forced to
move in together! And then a man (Greg Kinnear) enters the picture! How sprouted, dehydrated, free-of-pesticide nuts!
Mama is not the mother of invention. It possesses a worn premise and conventional sketch-comedy
mentality – ranging from the suspect relationships down to the comic timing. But it takes a worn premise and a conventional sketch mentality
and at least fertilizes it with some funny lines. Like some pregnancies, the cleverness of writer-director Michael McCullers’ writing
(and the likely considerable improvisation) is unexpected.
Like childbirth, much of the success has to
do with the delivery. It’s good to see that Fey – maybe the funniest woman in the world – can not only write a line but hit one, as
well. While the largeness of the silver screen makes Poehler’s talent seem as scrawny as her stomach, Fey seems at least comfortable in the
expanded canvas. A star is born? Ask me later.