"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Movie Review: Baby Mama - Super Funny, Super Cute

As I left the movie theater after watching Baby Mama, I tried to equate the warm happy feelings I had to the after-feelings of another film in recent history and I came up blank. Maybe after Juno, I thought, but that film was also tender and heartstringy. Baby Mama is just a feel-good, have-fun, sweet-humored good time. Sure, it's a little on the predictable side and certain jokes fall flat, but it's one of the more positive movie-watching experiences I've had in a while.

For one thing, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey make a great team as the wacky lady (Poehler) and the straight woman (Fey). Plenty of folks will probably compare this story to that of The Odd Couple, and these two opposites often make for hilariously awkward or gross interactions. But what develops between the two women is also totally refreshing: They become girlfriends, and it's really sweet to watch. It's funny to see their two different worlds colliding, though it's possibly more satisfying and equally funny when they come together and find some kind of common ground.

Fey plays Kate Holbrook, a highly successful VP of an organic foods company. At 37, she's ready to have a baby, but her uterus is apparently a disappointment, and adoption can take years as a single woman. Enter: Angie, the strapped-for-cash surrogate Kate hires to carry her baby. When Angie breaks up with her boyfriend Carl (Dax Shepard), she moves in with Kate and of course, their disparate lifestyles make for awkward misunderstandings, occasionally interrupted by the ladies playing a karaoke video game or going clubbing.

Meanwhile, Kate meets a handsome juice smoothie shop owner and struggles to maintain her strong standing with her eccentric boss (a ponytailed Steve Martin), and Angie grapples with her own secrets. With a fabulous '80s-heavy soundtrack and some excellent supporting actors (particularly Romany Malco, who plays the doorman at Kate's building and frequently manages to provide a sort of bizarre voice of reason), the movie clips along nicely until the ending which is, admittedly, a little cheesy.

Romantic comedies in which the focal point is a male-female relationship are moderately cute enough, but there's something awesome about a funny movie that's not the bland watered-down "comedy" of stuff nor is it entirely dude humor and boys bonding. Amidst the scads of comedies about schlubby guys and their inexplicably hot girlfriends, finally here's a fine movie with a refreshing message: Female friendship is great, and it can be funny.

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