Baby Mama (1/10)
by Tony Medley
Running time: 105 minutes.
“It’s a mess. This is a
real mess.” Rob (Greg Kinnear).
Rob is not a film critic.
He’s a former attorney providing the love interest for Kate (Tina Fey).
But he described this movie dead on. It is one of the most numbingly
unfunny films I’ve had the misfortune to endure.
But what was one to expect?
It’s basically a “Saturday Night Live” production, starring, as it does,
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (who plays Angie, the surrogate mother), both
mainstays of SNL, and produced by Lorne Michaels, the creator and
longtime producer of SNL. SNL, by the way, has an Obama-type Teflon
reputation. 90% of what it does is infantile, often excrement-derived,
low-intellect rubbish. Only 10% can be recognized as funny. But it’s the
10% that’s replayed over and over again, so that one thinks that it’s
been 30 years of unremitting excellence. Think again. This film captures
what the other 90% has been producing for 30 years.
In addition to an
astonishing lack of laughs, the film emphasizes the secular position on
the irrelevance of husbands and fathers, since the story glorifies unwed
pregnancies. It exalts selfish women like Kate (Fey), a 37-year-old
unmarried professional woman who wants a baby without thinking of
bringing it up without a father or traditional family environment
(remember mothers and fathers?). It’s all about her, forget about the
good of the child.
This is so weak that four
of the jokes that are shown in the trailer appear in the first five
minutes! They weren’t funny in the trailer, but it’s a telling
commentary that they do constitute the best parts of this movie. “Baby
Mama” confirms that when filmmakers include what they think are the best
jokes in the movie in the trailer, there is something terribly wrong
with the movie. What is the point of spoiling whatever laughs might be
derived from a movie by telegraphing the jokes before you see the movie?
Does Jerry Seinfeld come on television and say, “come to see me in
concert. Here are the jokes I will tell.”? If you know the jokes, what’s
the point of going to the concert or the movie?
The scene of Angie, sitting
on the washbasin urinating is in the trailer. I didn’t think it was
funny in the trailer. I thought it was disgusting. But that’s the kind
of bathroom humor these filmmakers think is funny. That’s the kind of
humor SNL has been foisting on its audiences for three decades. To open
a film with jokes just about everyone has already seen is not the way to
capture an audience.
Another tipoff for a critic
is that the screening was overflowing with paid laughers. Unfortunately
for me, one of them, an obese woman with a loud laugh, was sitting just
behind me. She laughed uproariously at just about every scene.
There are only two good
things about this movie, Angie’s common-law husband, Carl (Dax Shepard)
and Kate’s doorman, Oscar (Romany Malco). They do provide comic relief
from everyone else trying so hard to be funny. To Shepard and Malco,
being funny seems to be natural. For the others, it is clearly work.
Hard as they work to try to be amusing, they don’t require nearly the
effort that I needed to sit through this to the end.
McCullers is so inept that he can’t even get a good performance out of
Kinnear, who is, for my money, one of the more attractive, appealing
actors extant. Not so in this film.
Another clue that this is a
loser is the appearance of Steve Martin, in the role of Barry, Kate’s
spacey boss, an obvious steal from John O’Hurley’s Mr. Peterman
character from “Seinfeld.” Unfortunately, Martin isn’t funny, as was
O’Hurley. He’s just silly. This continues Martin’s dismal record in
film, but that’s another subject.
April 22, 2008