Baby Mama is not the greatest comedy film ever made and in all likelihood will fall to the wayside in the face of superior comedies of the 2000's. However, Baby Mama is by no means a bad film; it has a lighthearted feel, some of SNL's best comedians and a great performance by Tina Fey, who is, in my opinion, the funniest woman in show business. Furthermore, what Baby Mama possesses is a keen eye into the clear social divides of women as created by class and the film promotes a unity between such divides through the venue of motherhood. The film is funny, romantic and not too burdensome. The result is an accessible film with semi-quotable dialogue and brief moments of comedic genius.
The plot of Baby Mama is rather simple. Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey) is a successful career woman whose high-ranking job has not afforded her the time to marry, and more importantly have a child. After failings with adoption, intercourse and in vitro fertilization, Kate decides to try surrogacy and discovers a surrogate program led by an eccentric elderly woman named Chaffee Bicknell, who is played with subtle brilliance by Sigourney Weaver. After a large investment and Chaffee's assurance Kate meets her surrogate Angie (Amy Poehler). Angie is the complete opposite of Kate in that she is of a lower class and lacks the education of Kate. Furthermore, Kate is stuck in a "common law" marriage with Carl (Dax Sheppard) who sees the surrogacy as nothing more than an easy way to get rich. The middle portion of the film includes Kate coming to find romance with a local barista and business owner, while Angie learns to separate herself from her abysmal living situation and become independent. Unfortunately for Kate, Angie's baby is a result of intercourse between herself and Carl, making Kate's claim to the child irrelevant. In the end, Kate is denied the child that legally belongs to Angie, but luckily for Kate she discovers that her new relationship has brought the unthinkable into her life...a pregnancy. In the end, each character has discovered that happiness is only accessible through realizing the benefits of what they already possess and that desire only brings disdain.
The humor is certainly one of the most rewarding parts of the viewing experience; however, I found the class studies in the film to be its shining moment. Kate and Angie reflect two sides of an equally troubled coin, as it relates to American society. Kate represents the failure of the American Dream in that her ability to possess a nice job, car and house still leave her desire intangible things, particularly affection and self-worth. These feelings are best reflected in her lavish approach to baby preparation. As opposed to preparing herself emotionally for motherhood, Kate prepares her apartment to be baby proof, purchasing large quantities of the most advanced protective technologies. Kate actions, whether intentional or not, are indicative of a woman whose self-esteem is inextricably tied to financial success, as opposed to emotional stability. Angie on the other hand presents the problem of delusional ideas of instant celebrity. Angie finds her life pathetic and meaningless, and as a result lives vicariously through celebrities and an assumption that one day her musical skills will land her the big break from misery. This helps to explain Angie's place in the surrogacy practice, because for her it does not represent a chance to help another woman, but instead as an opportunity to move on in her life without advancing in self-worth. Fortunately, the film offers hope to both women who realize that their misplaced desires were a result of emotional distress and that their futures are promising as long as they desire happiness not through quantitative means, but qualitative ones.
This film is not necessary to purchase, but any fans of SNL, or comedy in general, should check this out, if only to see the ridiculous character that Steve Martin plays.