BABY MAMA (D: Michael McCullers). 96 minutes. Opens Friday (April 25). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
Baby Mama lets Tina Fey and Amy Poehler bring their sharp wits and incredible chemistry to the big screen... but only lets them steer that vehicle for a few minutes at a time.
As an infertile career woman and the trailer-trash twerp she hires to carry her egg to personhood, the Saturday Night Live co-stars and long-time comic partners have a great deal of fun with the classic odd-couple duet: Fey’s Kate is a neurotic control freak, while Poehler’s Angie is the unreconstructed slob.
When Angie breaks up with her dirtbag boyfriend (Dax Shepard), Kate takes her in and wackiness ensues. But as written and directed by Michael McCullers, a graduate of the Mike Myers school of safe gags, it’s a fairly schematic wackiness, with plot complications, reversals of fortune and moments of understanding occurring on a predictable schedule.Still, if the plot is prefab, the performances feel fresh.
Fey may not have much dramatic range, but McCullers doesn’t ask her to stray outside her safe zone; her character here is really just a calmer version of 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon.
Poehler gets the broader part – she’s all big, dopey id, bumbling into Kate’s world like a puzzled golden retriever. You just wish the larger package were worthy of its stars.