Hope and Crosby. Abbott and Costello. Martin and Lewis. What do these comedy teams all have in common? Well, they’re all dudes, for one thing. In fact, I can’t think of a single all-female comedy duo for the ages. Until now.
Okay, so it may be a bit premature to suggest that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are the next Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, but so far, these funny ladies are two-for-two. They were, of course, brilliant together on the set of SNL’s Weekend Update—the two smartest girls in the back of the class, cracking wise, throwing verbal spitballs, and making the boys swoon. And now they’re at it again in Baby Mama, playing an odd couple thrust together under unlikely circumstances.
Fey’s Kate Holbrook is an over-achieving VP at a natural food company. She is single, her biological clock is ticking, and a doctor has just blithely reported that he doesn’t like the looks of her uterus. So she hires Angie Ostrowiski (Poehler) as a surrogate mother to fertilize her eggs and bear her child.
Fey, very much to her credit, is playing Felix Unger here: She’s a little uptight, a control freak, the kind of woman who reads every conceivable book on pre-natal health care. Poehler’s Angie is like an overgrown child—she downs Tasty Kakes and Dr. Pepper, plays karaoke video games, and has unchecked appetites for sex, booze, and merriment. (Poehler’s physical gifts as a comedian are put to great use—especially in a scene where Angie struggles with a baby-proofed toilet bowl). Of course, it’s no surprise that each woman can use a bit of what the other has—but, in this film, all the fun is in the details.
Those details include a stellar supporting cast: Sigourney Weaver as the sanctimonious head of the Fertility Clinic—while she deals with women who can’t get pregnant, she herself is smugly hyper-fertile; a pony-tailed Steve Martin as the New Agey owner of the company where Kate works; Weeds’ Romano Malco as Kate’s doorman, a man all too familiar with “baby mama” drama.
But the film really belongs to the partnership of Fey and Poehler. Together, in their own sly way, they’re redefining the buddy film.