Baby Mama: Writer’s strike casualty

Tina Fey strikes comedy gold in this story about two women who learn how to get along despite hilarious differences. Psych, you wish. I’m embarrassed for all involved.

Tina! Tina Tina Tina Tina Tina Tina Tina Tina Tina!

Tina Tina!

I’m stuck repeating your name because my brain short-circuited midway into your latest film,
Baby Mama. I allowed myself to hope, and my hopes were dashed, although after Leatherheads, I wasn’t all that surprised. I’ve come to the conclusion that the writer’s strike must have made acting monkeys out of you all. Yes, you too, Amy Poehler. I trusted you with my Tuesday evening, and damned if you didn’t throw it back into my face, with a note wrapped around it that said, “SNL didn’t film for, like, months! I gotta eat somehow, yo!”

Amy, don’t give me that lip. You’ve been on thin ice for awhile now, what with your irritating tendency to pop up in every single SNL skit and your marriage to Arrested Development‘s Will Arnett (aka J.O.B.)* I have Poehler Fatigue anyway, so I didn’t expect too much, but boy did you astound me with your utter inability to portray your character. Wannabe surrogate mom Angie is supposed to be the white trash, uncultured, fertile foil to Tina Fey’s successful, bourgois, barren Kate. Yet this odd couple can’t really pull it off. Angie is too stylish, has zero accent, makes clever enough jokes, and has professionally applied make up. Amy Poehler is no Amy Ryan, here, and the result is a long, feature-length skit in which Angie wants x and Kate wants y and together they urge each other to do things outside of their comfort zone!

Ugh, even thinking about this film makes me furious! What a waste of talent! Even if Poehler’s boring performance had been any stronger, even Bette Davis couldn’t have saved this film from the effects of abysmal writing and slow as molasses editing. As Run Fatboy Run showed us earlier this year, an entirely predictable movie can be (and often is) worth its salt due to interesting dialogue or pacing or what have you. It’s gotta have more than just Steve Martin in a ponytail. It has to have wit and character. When we saw the ads for Mean Girls, did we clear our calendars for that opening night? No! It looked like just another Clueless knockoff — with Lindsay Lohan to boot! But it was so well-written and so well-made that word of mouth helped make into an unlikely phenomenon.

Of course, you wrote that, Tina. I know you didn’t write or direct this one. You got a call from your agent on a day when the writers’ strike had you particularly tired of staying home and catching up on your kid’s latest screaming fit. You read a script quickly, thought, “I bet Amy and I could make this decent,” and accepted the check. Hopefully you didn’t realize how badly made the film would be, or that your pal Poehler would have so much trouble resembling the character who is ultimately going to make best friends with your character. How convenient! This is all conjecture, of course but I want it to be true. No, I need it to be true. I need to know that at some point you are going to make another fantastic comedy. If not, we all might as well give up now, and just accept that the funniest joke in movies is going to be about a baby grunting like DMX. That’s right, Tina. BABIES GRUNTING LIKE DMX. It was at that point in the film that I actually thought “I’d rather be watching another trailer for What Happens in Vegas** right now.” And that’s on your conscience, not mine. The strike is over. Let’s get cracking, funny people. Put on your hat and vest and get dancing, monkeys. We’ve got blockbusters to write.

*Because I like him. Not because I don’t like him.
**Who’s worse, Cameron Diaz or Ashton Kutcher? Discuss.

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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  1. Something is wrong with rottentomatoes.com. This got a 61% and Forbidden Kingdom got a 62%, and I expect to kind of enjoy a movie in the sixties. But FK wasn’t that great at all: I laughed only once and couldn’t follow the poorly directed action scenes.

    Also, Amy Ryan’s Oscar was unjustly robbed from her.

  2. I am a huge fan of Amy Poehler and I think she stole the show. I laughed many times during the first half of the movie and Amy’s on screen boyfriend had the best one-liner in the entire movie: “I’m banging all of your friends.”

    Of course it wasn’t all good and it was a tale of two movies. During the last half, when it drifted into predictable Hollywood sappy-ness I found myself looking at the time much too often.

    My wife and I both said we would be disappointed if the ending that happened, happened and guess what? We were right. Cliche right to the unfunny end.

    Thanks for the good review, if only I had read it before I went. ;-)

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