This is one of those terrible terrible creations that just leaves me feeling a little uneasy about the way the film industry works. A comedy that’s been lazily cobbled together and just attached a lot of well known comedians in the hope that the mere presence of their names will fill the cinemas. What’s even more inexplicable is that this assumption even extends as far as to presume that we, the audience, love these public figures so much that we’ll laugh at them just because we know that they’re normally funny.
Well I’m standing up and saying NO! I’ve noticed that this film is crap, that Romany Malco just has to stand around being black and occasionally looking a bit shocked and that Tina Fey is just a pointless smushed up version of the Sex and the City characters, and I’m not willing to put up with this any more.
The basic premise is that Kate (Tina Fey) is a businesswoman in her late thirties. She gave up the possibility for a nice family life to pursue her career because she’s such a modern, switched-on lady, but now she also decided she wants a baby because, like, she’s still a woman too you know? So she pays a redneck girl called Angie (Amy Poehler) to have the baby for her. This sets up your basic odd couple finding a compromise scenario, which is accompanied by romance subplot B so you don’t get too bored. And just in case that wasn’t enough, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin are there so you can feel confident that it’ll be funny because they’ve been in loads of stuff before and we all love Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and Heartbreakers right? Right?? [Sigh]
To be fair, the fact that the film is so shit isn’t really the fault of any of the actors. Fey and Poehler manage to drag some character out of the bland stereotypes that’re written for them, and I genuinely thought there was some chemistry there: a couple of times I chuckled when it looked like they were given room for improv, but the script was just too dry and formulaic to ever really surprise me. It just felt like those jokes you get in Christmas Crackers, when your Dad reads the joke you just reply with the punchline in a monotone voice and then drink some more eggnog or eat some sort of festive snack.
Except there were no festive snacks or silly little toys, just this tripe on a massive screen and blaring out of massive speakers. But I digress. Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin, charged with their responsibility as the elder statesmen of the comedy film, do bring a little extra to proceedings. As the owner of the surrogate business Weaver gives an understated performance that effortlessly manages the shifty business gimmick pro she plays, likewise Steve Martin is mildly amusing in his role as an aging business guru/hippie whose occasional oddities came closer to making me crack a smile than anything else in the film. In particular the ongoing idea that he was passing the torch to his vice-president (Fey) was a wry commentary on passing the torch to the younger generation of comedians, but still wasn’t actually funny.
The basis of the film in a nutshell is that we should all find big business funny because they’re actually just phonies. The guys running them are idiots or fraudsters, and the people beneath them clawing their way up are actually ‘just like the rest of us’ in the end. This is not original, interesting or funny. The juxtapositions are tame and the observations trite and obvious. A bunch of reasonably talented (or at least once so) performers are really given little to work with in this boring excuse for a comedy, and even the chemistry between Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can’t save it.
This article was first posted on July 25, 2008