THE BEST—actually, the only—word I can think of to describe Baby Mama is "cute," which is kind of good and kind of bad. Let's focus on the good first: Baby Mama is the sort of "cute" that's perfectly enjoyable, comfortingly predictable, and fairly entertaining. But Baby Mama is also the sort of "cute" that's totally disposable and largely forgettable, and its stars, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, deserve to be in far better movies than ones like this.
Written and directed by Saturday Night Live scribe Michael McCullers (who also wrote Undercover Brother and two interchangeable Austin Powers movies), Baby Mama's an obvious vehicle for onetime Weekend Update co-anchors Fey and Poehler. They're a pretty inspired duo: Separately, both women are smart, likeable, and hilarious; together, they've got great comedic timing and chemistry. But while Baby Mama's plot—Fey plays Kate, a successful businesswoman who hires Poehler's white-trashy Angie to carry her child—does an adequate enough job setting the stage for hijinx, it also repeatedly veers into sappy, feel-good territory. (Watching Fey and Poehler argue over Angie's pregnancy diet of Red Bull and Red Vines is funny; watching them bond over a duet of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," not so much.) Blame McCullers, who can't seem to balance comedy and sentiment—by the time he's relying on a birthing coach with a speech impediment for laughs, or awkwardly tugging on heartstrings in a nonsensical courtroom climax, Baby Mama starts to feel contrived and simplistic, like it was only made to cash in on ad revenue when it inevitably starts rerunning on the Oxygen channel in a year or two.
But consistently, Poehler saves this thing. While both leads do a great job of making their cardboard-cutout characters engaging and funny, Poehler works overtime to punch things up. Just about every line out of Poehler's mouth elicits a laugh, and in her best scenes with Fey, the duo has a unique, witty, and charming rapport. Here's hoping Baby Mama does well—if only so that Fey and Poehler will have an excuse to pair up again.