Baby Mama (2008)

Rated: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and a drug reference.
Length: 99 minutes
Grade: B+B-BC=B+
Budget: $30 million
Box Office: $83 million (60 U.S., 3 Intl., 20 DVD)

Written and Directed by: Michael McCullers, a former writer for SNL whose only other notable movie is Austin Powers in Goldmember, if you actually consider that notable, that is.
Starring: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Martin, and Maura Tierney.

Kate is a successful but aging health food company exec who discovers that her uterus won’t allow her to have children of her own. So she decides to have her eggs implanted in a birth mother who then tries to get as much money from her even though the implantation didn’t work.

Entertainment Value: B+
Because this was such a product of SNL minds, including Amy Poehler, I did not have high expectations. But this was thoroughly entertaining, funny, moderately unpredictable, and interesting even on other levels. If you don’t mind the fact that Angie (Poehler’s character) is totally implausible (both too smart and too dumb, both too wicked and too decent, etc.) and just let it be what it’s gonna be, it works.

Superficial Content: B-
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sex/Nudity B, Violence B, Language C, Illegality B
Again, I was worried that this would be rife with unsavory content, but I was pleasantly disappointed. Everything unsavory is implied rather than shown, and it isn’t even all that much. The movie is about surrogacy, so obviously sex content is present, including a variety of things that are discussed at the birthing classes. There are many mid-color jokes and enough crude language to justify the PG-13. A man’s car is vandalized by the ladies. Also, there is one scene with a lot of alcohol being consumed at a dance club. Still, I think this is on the moderate end of PG, even though this is the right rating. It’s certainly not an “almost R” PG-13.

Significant Content: B
Since the whole movie is about the desire of a woman to have a child of her own, this is definitely pro-life, which must count for a lot these days. Some other themes here include the value of honesty, the possibility of redemption after having done wrong, the need for friendship, and the eminent mockability of health food outfits and people. Time is love, not money. When women climb the corporate ladder, they often discover they’ve given up something else more valuable along the way. One thing that bothered me was that the idea of a single, professional woman trying to have a child was never even questioned in terms of the needs of the child.

Artistic/Thought Value: C
I think for most people this winds up primarily working just as a comedy and not so much as a thinker. Nonetheless, there are some really good insights to be gleaned here about maternal impulses, honesty, and the extremes our society has gone to in order to make it possible for women to have both a career and children, or at least one child.

Discussion Questions:
~Kate clearly is aware that she has traded having a family for corporate success. Do you think she regrets this? Even after she has a baby, is she going to be able to really invest in it since she already knows she’ll use a nanny? Does it seem weird that she's so interested in the right nutrition for the child's development but doesn't seem to give any thought to the post-birth environmental and relational ideals for the child? Do you think Kate will be a good mother? What about Angie?
~Do you think women can be fulfilled by professional accomplishments without children usually? What message about this is our culture sending women?
~What do you think of Chaffee Bicknell’s analogy of outsourcing for a womb and of surrogacy just being a nanny before the child is born? What unique ethical issues does surrogacy raise? Could you ever be a surrogate? Would you want to be? Could you ever use one? Should single people be trying to have children at all?
~Do the characters in this movie who lie wind up suffering for their lies? Are there consequences to their bad behavior?
~How many of your friends are like you and how many of them are very different from you? To what degree is dissimilarity with friends an indicator of healthiness in a person? How do the needs to forgive and be humble factor into making relationships with different people possible?
~Angie says that Kate is a good person and it’s not right to pair up with another good person because that would diminish the uniqueness of her contribution to the relationship. What do you think of this? Is this principle a theme of this movie?
~At the end, Steve Martin says that time is love, not money. How true is this?
Overall Grade: B+
Enjoyable and even fairly meaningful, even though it’s not likely anyone will watch it for that reason.

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