Original Release: 2008
Length: 1 hour 39 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Side 1) 1.33:1 Full Frame (Side 2)
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Commentary
Rating: PG-13 (Some Crude Humor, Language)
Release Date: September 9, 2008
Rating: 2 ½ ½
Starring: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Romany Falco, Holland Taylor, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin
Produced by: Lorne Michaels and John Goldwyn
Written & Directed by: Michael McCullers
Baby Mama is a vehicle for recent SNL alumni Tina Fey and Amy Poehler under the umbrella of SNL producer Lorne Michaels. The plot involves career woman Fey hiring slacker Poehler to be her surrogate. As written by former SNL writer (and Fey writing partner) Michael McCullers, the movie more or less stays on a relatively harmless level of jokiness, with the basic premise changed up more than once during the film to keep things interesting. (Whenever things start to get stale, a plot twist gets thrown in that effectively resets the situation and buys the movie another twenty minutes before things wind down again. Of course, some of these twists make the plot almost completely outlandish by the end of the movie, but they do keep things from getting dull.) While both Fey and Poehler are amusing in the lead roles, the movie is effectively stolen by Steve Martin and Sigourney Weaver in extended cameos that help make the film a little more palatable. None of this is to say that this is a bad film by any means; it just isn’t an exciting or particularly memorable one.
Baby Mama has been released day and date with both this SD release and a Blu-ray release containing a PIP feature and a group commentary with Fey, Poehler, McCullers and Michaels. The SD release reviewed here contains the commentary along with some deleted scenes and two featurettes spread between the two sides of the disc. As with Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, an anamorphic widescreen transfer is included on one side of the disc, and a pan & scan transfer is included on the other. The commentary is included on each side, but the featurettes are different. Overall, there’s a little material to pore through, but nothing that substantive, unfortunately mirroring the film itself.
VIDEO QUALITY: 3/5
Baby Mama has an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer on the front side and a pan & scan 1.33:1 transfer on the back side. The anamorphic transfer looks fine, with accurate flesh tones and mostly bright colors throughout. Darker colors and scenes come off well, as does an inset club scene around the midpoint of the film. I did not evaluate the pan & scan transfer on this release.
AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5
Baby Mama is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English, French and Spanish. For the overwhelming majority of the film, the sound lives in the front channels with the spoken dialogue. There are a few moments for atmospheric effects, such as the inset club scene, and there is some use of the surrounds for music, but this really isn’t that active of a mix. And to be fair, it really doesn’t need to be one – so long as the dialogue is clear and easy to understand, the mix does its job. And that is true here.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 2 ½ /5 ½
Baby Mama comes with a group commentary, an alternate ending deleted scenes and two featurettes spread over the two sides of the disc.
On the front of the disc, with the anamorphic widescreen edition of the film, we find:
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Michael McCullers, Producer Lorne Michaels, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler – McCullers and the gang deliver a scene specific commentary that is more of a gabfest than an insightful discussion of what happens onscreen. There is a lot of simple description of what is clearly happening, along with constant one-liners by Fey and Poehler that vary in their effectiveness. The commentary is subtitled as usual, but the option isn’t included in the menu.
Alternate Ending (2:29, Non-Anamorphic) – An alternate ending is presented here in non-anamorphic widescreen format. It’s not all that different from the one on the released version, just employing a plot device abandoned partway into the finished film.
Deleted Scenes (6:36 Total, Non-Anamorphic) – Several deleted scenes are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen format. Most simply extend other sequences with extraneous bits or provide unneeded plot information. But the last one features a more interesting and sobering discussion of the plot between Fey and her character’s sister than anything seen in the actual film.
Saturday Night Live: A Legacy of Laughter – (3:16, Anamorphic) - This is an inexplicable and brief discussion of Fey and Poehler’s recent work on SNL and its relation to the movie. But where such a discussion could really get into depth about SNL’s legacy of performers and female teams over the years, this one just includes a few quick interview snippets praising Lorne Michaels and the show without taking any time to examine anything. There’s nothing particularly interesting here, and the only reason the featurette exists seems to be for the fact that it plugs Volkswagen in its listing on the menu and the back of the packaging.
On the back of the disc, with the full-frame version of the film, we find:
From Conception to Delivery: The Making of BABY MAMA (10:04, Anamorphic) – This is a quick and typical EPK-type featurette, with Fey and the others doing the usual mutual compliments. But they do acknowledge that the film was conceived and designed as a vehicle for Fey and Poehler, using their roots in SNL to put the whole thing together. Ironically, this featurette is presented in anamorphic widescreen on the same side of the disc that houses the pan & scan transfer of the film – a choice that really doesn’t make much sense.
Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish for the film itself, as well as for the special features. A standard chapter menu is included for quick reference for both versions of the film. When the front side of the disc is initially started, the viewer is presented with an optional pair of non-anamorphic previews for 30 Rock, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior. When the back side of the disc is initially started, the viewer is presented with an option pair of non-anamorphic previews for Leatherheads, Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day and Mostly Ghostly.
IN THE END...
Baby Mama is clearly intended to bank on the popularity of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler from SNL, but it provides very little of the outrageousness one would expect. Instead, it’s a fairly ordinary comedy that simply doesn’t stay with the viewer after the movie ends. Fey and Poehler fans may want to rent it, but there simply isn’t much here to see. It’s not a bad movie; it just isn’t a very good one. And the DVD doesn’t add much to make it any more memorable than that.
September 12, 2008.