|Available at Amazon.com|
I think just about everyone started out their Saturday Night Live education the same way: sneaking off to watch it in the middle of the night somewhere without your parents knowing. For me, I always looked forward to Saturday nights spent baby-sitting late. That meant that when the kids went to bed, I could have the whole living room to myself and watch SNL. Everyone has differentiating opinions on the best SNL cast, too. Whether it be the Chase/Radner/Ackroyd time frame, or the Sandler/Myers/Farley timeframe, everyone has a favorite. Whether the cast of recent years is going to go down in SNL infamy is yet to be determined. But as spotty as the cast can get, Tina Fey will go down in the records as one of SNL’s funniest ladies.
Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) is a very successful businesswoman and has worked to further her career for a very long time. As she is approaching her late thirties, it hits her: baby fever. That biological clock has been ticking away and she’s ready to have a baby of her own. After many failed attempts, she reaches out to a surrogate mother. But, instead of being preened, polished and productive, the surrogate Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler) is pathetic, penniless, and well, positively white trash. Angie arrives with her ripped shirt-wearing boyfriend… excuse me, “common-law husband” Carl (Dax Shepard) and they turn Kate’s world upside down.
You’d think that this would be a fluffy SNL comedy, and at times it is. But for me, the subject matter is a little harsh to make fun of in the ways they do. Angie comes in, accepts the responsibility to carry her baby, and royally screws up her life. But instead of reacting in a realistic way (i.e., beating the crap out of her and having her arrested), Kate accepts her with an everlasting smile and makes the best of it. In fact, everyone in the movie goes along with it like there’s nothing wrong with anything. Kate’s bellboy (played by Romany Malco from The 40 Year Old Virgin, Weeds, and The Love Guru) even defends Angie! I guess if you were able to get swept up in the storyline, it would be possible to believe all of this. Even though I didn’t believe what was going on, the laughs were still more plentiful than anticipated. There was even one particular line that had me rewinding saying, “Did he actually just say that??!!” (Hint: watch during the baby shower scene.)
The two main actors, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, pretty much play themselves throughout the whole movie. And honestly, that’s fine with me. I like their individual styles and I like their comedic delivery. The most notable performances in the film are given by the supporting cast. Dax Shepard, who I always think of as the guy from Punk’d, plays Carl Loomis, Angie’s common-law husband. He pretty much plays himself too, but it works for the character here. Sigourney Weaver plays the head of the surrogate agency, and she’s very very funny here. It’s always fun to see her do comedy. When I saw Greg Kinnear’s name in the credits, I thought he looked a little out of place amongst the comedic cast. But he does an excellent job holding his own as Kate’s love interest, the retired lawyer turned juice store owner. Steve Martin even makes an appearance as Kate’s boss: the long-haired hippie owner of “Round Earth” foods. But my favorite cameo? Siobhan Fallon as the “birthing teacher”. She was always one of my favorites from the early ’90s SNL era. You might remember her as Edgar’s wife from Men In Black, and various other films. She always cracks me up.
There really is a lot to like about this movie. It’s an SNL movie with really funny leads and a really funny supporting cast. Not believing the story would seem like a big reason NOT to like a movie, but that’s just not the case. For me, the elements about the film that are good outweigh the elements that are bad. I’m sure it’s a little bit of Saturday Night Live nostalgia from way back when, and a little bit of my love of the first women who anchored Weekend Update without the help of a man, but this movie will still get a recommendation from me.
This DVD lets you pick your preference with a widescreen version on one side, and a fullscreen version on the other. Both versions are presented with Dolby Digital sound. The disc also features dubbed versions in Spanish and French, or subtitles in French, Spanish, and for the hearing impaired
On the widescreen side of the disc:
Alternate Ending – Oddly similar to the King of Queens series finale. If you didn’t watch that, this will be a new concept. This ending is way too short, but could have been good if fully realized.
Deleted Scenes – Several deleted scenes that are actually pretty funny. My favorite one is entitled “Using a Breast Pump”.
Saturday Night Live: A Legacy of Laughter – Brought to You By Volkswagen – Quite possibly the most unnecessary title of a DVD extra ever. This pathetic three minute long tribute to the “legacy” of SNL is pretty much just a quick behind the scenes featuring Lorne Michaels.
On the fullscreen side of the disc:
From Conception to Delivery: The Making of Baby Mama – A pretty standard making of feature. There are interviews with every member of the cast talking about their character. And in the first two and a half minutes, someone says “It’s great because Amy and Tina are writers” or “Amy and Tina are writers…” at least 10 times.
There is the same commentary on both sides of the disc, both featuring director and former SNL writer Michael McCullers, Lorne Michaels, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and this is one of the better commentaries I’ve heard in awhile. I always tend to like commentaries on comedy films more than others because of the lightheartedness.
Previews include: 30 Rock Season 2, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, Leatherheads, Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, and RL Stein’s: Mostly Ghostly.
Goofy and unbelievable storyline and character reactions aside, this is a pretty funny movie. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler always deliver, in my opinion. Fans of either or both of the two ladies will love this movie. The DVD extras are very funny too with the exception of the unnecessary Volkswagen one. I nominate that for most ridiculously named DVD feature of the year.
Universal Studios presents Baby Mama. Directed by Michael McCullers. Starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Steve Martin, Sigourney Weaver. Written by Michael McCullers. Running time: 99 minutes. Rated PG-13. Released on DVD: September 9, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.