Nixon (1995) / Drama
MPAA Rated: R for language
Running time: 192 min. (director's cut runs 212 min.)
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen, Powers Booth, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskin, E.G. Marshall, David Paymer, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Sorvino, Mary Steenburgen, J.T. Walsh, James Woods, Annabeth Gish, Tony Goldwyn, Larry Hagman, Edward Herrmann, Madeline Kahn, Dan Hedaya, Tony Lo Bianco, Saul Rubinek, John Diehl, John C. McGinley, Michael Chiklis, Sam Waterston (Director's Cut)
Cameo: George Plimpton, Bridgette Wilson, Wilson Cruz, Marley Shelton, Ling Bai, Jon Tenney, Donna Dixon, John Stockwell, Oliver Stone (voice)
Director: Oliver Stone
Screenplay: Stephen J. Rivelle, Christopher Wilkinson, Oliver Stone
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the stars of SNL's "Weekend Update," make the jump to movie stars in their own vehicle, and while it is a very hit-and-miss affair, it at least does fare better than most of the recent crop of films starring current "Saturday Night Live" regulars. Directed and scripted by SNL veteran writer Michael McCullers, Baby Mama very much feels like a conglomeration of small skits revolving around the desire to have a baby rather than a focused storyline. Luckily, it's funny enough in small doses to accumulate the laughter required to make it a worthwhile outing for those looking for a few yuks, though if judges solely as a film, it's too disjointed to proclaim as anything more than passable entertainment, particularly as it loses steam through a woefully forced "Whose baby is it anyway?" court case ending.
Fey stars as 37-year-old, single, want-to-be mother Kate, a newly-crowned VP for an organic food corporation in Philadelphia, who uses her big raise to fund a surrogate pregnancy when all other options have failed due to a genetic defect that renders her extremely unlikely of conceiving. With her biological clock perpetually pounding, she shells out $100k for a professional company to perform the duties, and though they insist their surrogates are carefully screened, Kate ends up with Angie, an uneducated, "white trash" slob who practically refuses to give up any of her bad habits in order to benefit the child's in utero development. There is a reason: Angie's only pretending to be carrying the baby so that she can get away from her no-good common law husband, Carl, for a place to stay and be cared for. This odd couple's shenanigans do not make for the most ideal environment.
Some might be quick to proclaim the film as the lighter, friendlier version of Judd Apatow's Knocked Up. Crass humor abounds, but it's still relegated to PG-13 status, even with the requisite poo, pee and puke gags that seem to run rampant in baby-making comedies. Much of one's feeling towards the film will most likely be influenced by one's feeling towards its two stars, Fey and Poehler, as the vehicle rides on their personalities for laughs much more so than through anything written in the script. If you consider them to be appealing and hilarious in other forms, you'll likely consider Baby Mama time well spent. If you find them grating or unfunny, you'll most likely feel the same about the film.
Though the storyline at the center of the film isn't particularly fresh or funny, where the film scores its laughs is through the supporting character comments and pop culture asides. Steve Martin dishes out an oddly amusing spin on the cororate magnate guru who believes that his success is somehow a gift that can be transferred to others by his whim (he even rewards his employees through extended eye contact). Romany Falco gets a chance to continue his homeboy schtick as the doorman to Kate's high-rise apartment building (though he is rarely at the door), putting in such quips as the dangers of listening to too much DMX during the pregnancy (he'll come out growling menacingly). "Karaoke Revolution", health food, Jamba Juice, baby safety products and other bits of pop are sent up for laughs, and are acute enough in their delivery to provide ample amusement to forgive the lack of laughs generated by the core plot.
©2008 Vince Leo