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09.17.08

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Phaedra

Baby Mama

One disc; Universal; $29.98

Reviewed by Richard von Busack


Tina Fey's resemblance to Sarah Palin got worked on SNL last weekend (I still say Palin is a job for Jennifer Coolidge). However, there's nothing in this comedy that Palin would find a threat, from the insipid Talking Heads hit over the titles to the babies-everywhere end. Fey plays Kate, the Wharton School-educated VP of development for Round Earth, a Whole Foodsish grocery chain. At 37, Kate suffers from an empty womb ("Every baby on the street was staring at me"). She hires a small-town, white-trashy surrogate, Angie (Amy Poehler), to birth the kid, but this turns out to be a fraud instigated by Angie and her lazy common-law husband (Dax Shepard). Writer/director Michael McCullers puts the film in The Odd Couple groove, and that keeps the plot going forward. Deleted scenes and an alternative ending show even more of an upper-class lean, and more moments of Romany Malco (an actor better than this role) working the archaic bit about the streetwise black man, eternally horny and ready to foal some illegitimate children. More refined is the wonderful Holland Taylor of Two and a Half Men reprising her role as a caustic mom. Sigourney Weaver, the Tina Fey of her day (given a choice of the two, I prefer the Sigourney Weaver of Sigourney Weaver's day), also has some barbed, funny bits. Since Fey plays a clueless straight woman, the best gags go to the feisty Poehler: wish there'd been more lines like Angie's suave announcement that she's been "practicing the ancient Japanese art of karaoke." Extras include a 10-minute making-of documentary and a commentary track by Michaels, McCullers, Fey and Poehler. (Michael Myers is right: Lorne Michaels really does sound like Dr. Evil.)


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