Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Romany Malco, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Martin, Maura Tierney, Will Forte, Fred Armisen
Would you put your eggs ... in this basket?
When single executive Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) decides the time is right to finally have a baby, she hires a working-class woman (Amy Poehler) from South Philadelphia to act as her surrogate mother. However, Kate's careful planning goes out the window when the woman shows up on her doorstep needing a place to live. A comic battle of wills breaks out between the pair as they prepare for the blessed event and try not to kill one another in the process.
$17.407 million on 2543 screens.
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
Runtime: 99 min.
Release Date: 9/9/2008
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Michael McCullers, Producer Lorne Michaels, and Actors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
• U-Control Interactive Feature
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Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
Baby Mama [Blu-Ray] (2008)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 30, 2015)
After 30 Rock gave her success as a TV star, Tina Fey tried to capitalize with her first big-screen lead role in 2008’s Baby Mama. She plays Kate Holbrook, a woman in her late thirties who postponed her social life to succeed in business. She became a bigwig at an organic foods company but feels like a flop in her personal affairs.
Since Kate hears the ticking of her internal clock, she decides to have a baby. With no strong romantic prospects on the horizon, she takes matters into her own hands via artificial insemination. Alas, this fails, as doctors claim that Kate’s equipment makes it next to impossible for her to become pregnant.
Not yet ready to give up, Kate adopts another approach: a surrogate mother. She goes through an agency that matches her with super-fertile Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler), a lowbrow South Philly girl. The film follows their relationship along with a mix of complications.
Those snarls become the movie’s main weakness. I can’t say that any of the issues that develop come as a surprise, and I understand the filmmakers’ need to tell a dramatic arc here.
However, the various threads tend to bog down the story and make it less enjoyable. Mama feels like it wants to be a raucous comedy but it seems constrained with the notion it needs to be more three-dimensional. That means we end up with a moderately dramatic side that doesn’t truly harm the flick, but it makes things less entertaining.
Which is too bad, since Mama can be quite funny when it lets loose. This never becomes a belly laugh kind of movie, as it’s too quiet to inspire true guffaws. Nonetheless, it prompts plenty of good chuckles, and the humor proves to be reasonably clever.
Much of the credit goes to the chemistry between Poehler and Fey. When I reviewed Season One of 30 Rock, I declared Fey to be my dream woman, and nothing on display here changes my mind. She’s still smart, funny and sexy – what more could I want?
Actually, a woman like Kate would probably drive me a bit nuts, as she’s too anal and “Type A” for my liking. Nonetheless, the typical Fey personality – though better displayed by her sloppy, sarcastic Liz Lemon in 30 Rock - comes through well enough to make Kate endearing.
And she interacts well with Poehler. I think Poehler never quite turns Angie into a real personality just because it always feels like she’s in a character. There’s a more than minor shade of comedic condescension to her performance that ensures Angie comes across more like an SNL character than the more three-dimensional movie role she’s supposed to become.
Nonetheless, Poehler prompts most of the flick’s laughs, and her chemistry with Fey excels. Mama works best during the scenes that feature Kate and Angie in conflict. They butt heads well and create nice comedic results.
A stellar supporting cast helps. Greg Kinnear offers a funny but grounded turn as Kate’s boyfriend, and we also find Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin in fine extended cameos. Weaver’s turn comes as the bigger surprise, mostly due to the lengths she allows the movie to poke fun at her age. Hollywood actresses are usually sensitive about their advancing years, but Weaver lets herself be mocked relentlessly.
Mama frustrates me to a moderate degree, as it never quite seems to live up to its potential. As I alluded earlier, there’s a really fine movie trapped just beneath the surface here. Nonetheless, even if it doesn’t achieve greatness, it entertains. I wanted an “A”, but a “B+” still satisfies.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-
Baby Mama appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was never a great image but it seemed satisfactory.
Sharpness usually appeared acceptably accurate and detailed. At times, however, I found the image to come across as a little fuzzy and soft, with lesser definition seen in some of the wide shots. Nonetheless, most of the movie appeared clear and appropriately focused. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no concerns, and edge haloes remained absent. No print flaws materialized; the film remained clean and fresh.
In terms of colors, the flick went with an orange/amber feel. Within those parameters, the tones looked fine. Blacks were dark and firm, while shadows appeared clear and well-developed. The image didn’t really excel, but it was good.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it offered a functional effort and that was all. Of course, I didn’t expect a dazzling soundfield from this sort of comedy, and I got exactly what I anticipated. In terms of effects, general ambience ruled the day. Surround usage stayed limited; the back speakers gently fleshed out various settings but did no more than that.
In those forward channels, the music provided nice stereo separation and opened up the mix reasonably well. There wasn’t a whole lot of activity or movement, but the effects conveyed a passable sense of space and place. The track functioned appropriately for the story.
Audio quality appeared fine. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural, and speech displayed no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects were a minor component of the mix, and they seemed appropriately subdued and accurate; there wasn’t much to hear, but the various elements were clean and distinct. The music came across as acceptably distinctive. This was a standard “comedy mix” and became a decent reproduction of the material.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the original 2008 DVD? Audio was a little warmer and fuller, while visuals seemed more concise and smoother. This wasn’t an impressive Blu-ray, but it offered a decent step up from the DVD.
Among the extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Michael McCullers, producer Lorne Michaels, and actors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They talk about cast and crew, characters and performances, script and improvisation, sets and locations, and various anecdotes from the shoot.
Expect a light and lively commentary here. We find plenty of jokes – mostly from Poehler and Fey – along with a reasonable amount of movie-making information. This is never a particularly serious piece, but it fleshes out the movie in a satisfying manner.
New to the Blu-ray, we get U-Control. A staple of Universal Blu-rays, this interactive piece offers a picture-in-picture track that shows us behind the scenes footage as well as interviews. We hear from Fey, Poehler, McCullers, and actors Greg Kinnear, Romany Malco, and Dax Shepard. They discuss the notion of surrogacy along with cast, characters and performances.
Don’t expect much quality information, as the comments tend to be bland and general. The video from the set is more interesting, especially when we hear some alternate lines. Nonetheless, this ends up as a pretty flat picture-in-picture piece.
Note that the Blu-ray drops a bunch of extras from the DVD. It loses deleted scenes and two featurettes. I don’t miss the latter but it’s a shame the cut sequences failed to pop up here.
I hoped to find an excellent comedy from Baby Mama, but I ended up with a pretty good one. Though it becomes a mild disappointment, it remains amusing and entertaining enough to satisfy. The Blu-ray delivers fairly good picture and audio along with a small but decent set of supplements. Baby Mama fails to achieve greatness but it’s enjoyable.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of BABY MAMA