Baby Mama
This is what you get for not paying these ladies of the night.

Theatrical Release Date: 04/25/2008
Director: Michael McCullers
Cast: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Romany Malco, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Martin, Maura Tierney

One thing to get right out of the way with “Baby Mama” is that while it may look like a Tina Fey creation, it’s not quite that. Writer/Director Michael McCullers (“Austin Powers 2 & 3″, “Undercover Brother”, “SNL”) is the brain behind the film and while I’m sure the actors were able to add their own spin to things as it went and apparently Fey and Amy Poehler did help polish it after the first draft, that just wasn’t enough to take this film to where it could have gone.

This quite simply is a film you can judge by its trailer. Did you laugh? Then you’ll do fine. Think it looked stupid? Then take your $740 dollars (is that how much it is these days?) and find another theater.

The acting is okay, I guess. Thankfully, aside from Fey’s yearning to be a mother and Poehler’s desire to upgrade her white trash status, no one really has to act. Steve Martin does a nice job of being a new age crackpot and it made me wish that he could pair this character with Tim Robbins’ from “High Fidelity” for a fantastic, psychedelic road movie. Alas, now that I’ve said it, someone else will write it – only to be forced to re-cast with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence … but c’est la vie.

(Fun Tidbit: According to the initial writer of “Bad Boys”, David Milch, the film was intended to be a vehicle for Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz. After Milch finished the first treatment of the film, he pulled out of the project and the subsequent rewrites morphed it into the version Michael Bay dropped on our heads. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.)

And while Steve Martin does do a great job, it’s Romany Malco who steals the film from everyone else. You probably best know him as the guy from “The 40 Year Old Virgin” who educates us about the code written in male DNA that says “tackle drunk bitches.”

He plays the doorman of Fey’s apartment building and since there’s no point in making anything realistic, he seems to show up just about anywhere Fey goes. Now that’s service! Thankfully, while I was able to ignore why he was there, it was a good thing he was since his ability to lift a rather mundane scene to something worth slapping someone else’ knee to is excellent. I’m still laughing about what happens when you let your baby listen to DMX in the womb.

I’ll be forthright and admit that my expectations were higher than they should have been. I was hoping for a Tina Fey production and since she was not the primary source of material, most of the funny elements to the film came about from one-liners and reaction shots, rather than anything very clever.

Still, the real problem with this film isn’t a full lack of comedy or talent. There just isn’t that much heart. Perhaps it’s because I’m a guy who doesn’t want kids but while I have some sympathy for Tina Fey’s character and her inability to pop out Feylets, I never really felt sorry for her. You can tell where the film is going from the instant it begins and there’s never any doubt that everyone’s going to live happily ever after. What little conflict there is in the film is resolved faster than it began so it became nearly impossible to develop any true empathy.

“Baby Mama” doesn’t necessarily do anything wrong but it also never really does anything at a very high level. It’s a middle of the road, diversion film and that means I’m going to give it a 3 out of 5. I could see renting this when it hits DVD shelves or catching in on cable and I’d probably watch it again if it landed on one of the many HDTV channels since I’ll watch anything in HD (exhibit A: “How to Eat Fried Worms“).

However, if you really need a comedy right now, try “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” or “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” if you like stoner films or “Horton Hears a Who!” if you like the cartoons. “Baby Mama” doesn’t quite require a trip out of the house.