Baby Mama needed the creative input of its stars, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, to make it live up to its promise.
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8 Sep 2008 - 4:38 PM  UPDATED 16 Jan 2014 - 3:48 PM

I know the figures aren't considered great by mainstream standards (reported to have opened at $772,331 across 199 sites to at 5th spot) and consequently you may think the film was left behind by Australian audiences against Tropic Thunder like the Jamaican women's relay team in Beijing but I know there are others of you out there who have (and will have by the time it closes) rushed to the cinema to see Baby Mama.

For Tina Fey.

I want to love this film. I want to say to you all that if it is a dystopic chick flick – let's all go gold class because we all know that I'm not saying anything original when I say that I dig Tina Fey (Mean Girls, 30 Rock). What's not to like? It's like saying that I like New York City, bagels, and wide screen television. And even if you didn't recognise Amy Poehler as Lindsay Lohan's 'mom' in Mean Girls maybe you have seen her in Blades of Glory (and the deliciously mocking extra feature “Arnett and Poehler: A Family Affair”). I think that segment on its own is enough to win the debate re Poehler: witty, focussed, gorgeous and sharp. No need to mention the Emmy nomination…

Tina and Amy. Fey and Poehler. Fey was the first Saturday Night Live female head writer and the two worked together as SNL co-hosts for seasons 2004-6. They are playing and winning on their chosen turf. But the question is then, why didn't they (or at least Fey) write Baby Mama? Instead, the two deliver former Saturday Night Live (and Austin Powers) writer, Michael McCullers his feature directorial debut and a financial success — so far taking over 30 million dollars than it cost to make in the States alone.

The film has some very SNL sketch-like moments and fun banter between the characters, particularly the leads of Angie (Poehler) who has been employed by singleton, uptight, exec success Kate (Fey) as her surrogate. Theirs is a relationship ripe for disaster – two very different women intimately bound up in this shared pregnancy and their scenes together are, for the most part, full of chemistry (at one stage choreographed to a soundtrack by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie courtesy of “Endless Love”). Angie belting it out “Careless Whisper” on the karaoke machine, Kate “framing her face” on the dance floor, Amy peeing into the sink – its all good fun.

And it's a good premise. A baby mama - or "biebi madda" as it was originally in Jamaican Creole – is a mother who is not married to the baby's pa. It often is used to refer to single mothers. This is an issue relevant to many and what better way to handle important social issues than as a comedy?

But why oh why does Fey (in particular) let it happen, as it so often does: An interesting and important social concept diluted to fit perfectly into the three-act structure and the designated lame post-ending credit montage where everyone is happy and – yes – the central character is engaged to be married! She aint no "biebi madda" no more. And while Baby Mama does shift slightly out of the way of the sausage factory stream-train of endings it's not enough. I wanted more from this film.

Come on ladies. Bring it on!

- Kylie Boltin