"Baby Mama" Blu-ray Review
October 02, 2008 by Zach Demeter
With her continued success on television, Tina Fey’s foray into films was sure to be a prosperous road whenever time away from 30 Rock could be found. Combining with SNL alum Amy Poehler, Fey starred in the Michael McCullers written and directed Baby Mama, a film that was fairly well received by both the movie going public as well as critics and served to only continue push Fey out into the public eye. With a film starring two of SNL’s funniest cast members, the film became a hit for all those involved.
When Kate (Fey) discovers that she is unable to conceive, she hires a surrogate mother to help conceive the baby she has always wanted. Although impressed by the surrogate, Angie (Poehler) at first, Kate quickly realizes that Angie is more than a handful. After a spat with her boyfriend, Angie shows up at Kate’s doorstep looking for a place to live and their already tumultuous relationship becomes even rockier. Despite the turmoil, Kate continues to succeed at her job and begins to fall in love with someone. What Kate doesn’t know, however, is that Angie is not being completely honest about the child she is carrying.
Going into the film I expected a few things, one of which was to laugh. That was met in full, as the film itself was quite humorous, but the downside to it was that it wasn’t exactly the type of humor I had expected. After watching Fey’s past works for so long, I fully expected the humor in this film to a bit more biting in nature. Instead it was pretty tame and wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in any way; it was funny, sure, but it wasn’t the kind of funny I had hoped for. Of course once I realized that Fey wasn’t involved as a producer or writer for the film, it made sense, but I was still slightly put off by the film.
Another element that surprised me was that it turned out to be much more of the generic “chick flick” than I expected. The trailers painted it as a rather vague type of film that could appeal to both sides of the gender, but anyone who isn’t capable of giving birth may not be as into the film as they expect. Again, I know it’s a general romantic comedy and I shouldn’t be whining about elements of the film that play specifically to its intended audience, but in a way the film felt even more closed off than the usual romantic comedy that I sit through. Doesn’t mean this is a bad film by any means, it just isn’t the same film as the trailers painted it to be, which I guess shouldn’t be too big of a surprise.
The film is filled with a wide variety of characters to know and enjoy, ranging from other SNL alumni who pop up, including Steve Martin in perhaps the films funniest oddball character. He’s always hilarious when he’s on screen and the five minute stare with Fey’s character was absolutely hilarious. Siobahn Fallon as the birthing teacher was also hilarious and there was no shortage of laughs that came from the sequences she was in. Truly it was the characters that help make this film more than anything.
The rest of the plot followed along as one would expect, with the usual rollercoaster ride of a romantic comedy eventually hitting a mid point where it seems to fall apart for our characters, only to come back together in the end. Admittedly I didn’t see the “twist” at the end coming, perhaps because I began to take the film solely at face value and didn’t attempt to decipher the plot in the least, but it was pleasant to say the least.
While I was ultimately disappointed with the film (more for its generic brand of humor than anything else) I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it again. At its core the film is sweet and charming and it will bring a smile to your face by the time the credits roll. It is simply a “cute” film in every sense of the word and Fey and Poehler do a remarkable job keeping the film lively and engaging throughout its hour and forty minutes. Recommended.
Universal brings the film to the Blu-ray format in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with an insert advertising upcoming Blu-ray releases. Disc art mimics the cover and menus are simple and easy to navigate. There isn’t too much to talk about with the presentation of the film—it’s simple and straight forward and with the menu using the generic Universal “blade” menu system, things are easy to find and navigate to.
The film arrives with a VC-1 encoded 1.85:1 1080p transfer that looks as impressive as one would expect for a modern production. Color levels range from inky blacks for the few night sequences to bright and colorful for the various daytime park walks. It’s a great looking film, without any hint of compression and grain left intact in all the right places. Occasionally there would be a soft looking sequence (the baby shower didn’t appear to have as much depth as the other sequences to me), but overall it’s a fine looking film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that accompanies the film will do little to impress you, with the surrounds and LFE channel only seeing any real use during the nightclub sequence. As expected for a comedy, it’s the front channels that get the most use, with the center channel seemingly carrying the majority of the film all by itself.
Extras are slim here, with only a few things to poke around with. The first is a feature commentary with writer/director Michael McCullers, producer Lorne Michaels and cast members Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Despite these being the three main individuals who worked on the film, it’s a surprisingly dull track, with frequent periods of silence. Fey and Poehler seem reluctant to speak up and instead leave the heavy lifting to Michaels and McCullers. You’d expect a track with so many talented and funny individuals that there’d be a bit more laughter tossed into it, but overall it’s a rather mediocre commentary, although it does offer up some interesting behind the scenes stories and facts.
The rest of the extras are once again embedded into the U-Control Picture-in-Picture feature. While nice, the fact you have to go through each chapter and see which one has an icon above it to watch the extras are kind of tedious. I still would prefer if they just included them as standard pieces, as they flow better when they aren’t just randomly inserted into the film. We do get to hear more from Fey and Poehler specifically in these extras, however, so they are worth watching if you want to hear more of their input into the whole process.
Overall a decent release, but a bit weak on the extras department. Give it a Rental to be sure you want to own it before ponying up the cash for the Blu-ray release.
Baby Mama is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.