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Baby Mama 

There are relatively few close-ups of babies reacting to things in Big Mama. But it's also a missed opportunity: Stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler aren't provided with a good-enough showcase to jumpstart the under-represented category of the female buddy comedy. That's not for lack of trying on their part. The script, by Michael McCullers, would rather be nice than demonstrate a knowledge of the social and biological pressures on women in their 30s. Kate (Fey) doesn't react well to the news her uterus is shaped like a T. Unable to procreate, she recruits Angie (Poehler) to carry her child.

Kate's and Angie's much different dispositions haven't the memorable personality clashes one got from Steve Martin and John Candy, and David Spade and Chris Farley. When they duet "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" on an American Idol video game, it needs to be a moment where refined Kate and crude Angie put aside their differences, uniting through amused collaboration. But McCullers hasn't pushed them far enough to the edge for the scene to register. Fey's compulsively watchable (dry but approachable) attitude means Baby Mamaisn't a total loss. She just should have written it herself. The girl from 30 Rock has been known to throw sharper sticks.

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Vol 26, No 34
January 17, 2019

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