Save the drama fo' yo "Baby Mama"

Well, it seems like I was right about what I expected my opinion of Baby Mama to be. On one hand it was funny, but on the other, it played into every negative stereotype possible about those who are involved on both sides of the surrogacy process. Different levels of me have conflicting opinions, which is quite a disconcerting frame of mind to have. Ignoring the fact that I know so much about what I do and taking the movie at face value for what it is – which is a simple, formulaic, and predictable comedy – it was quite funny and I managed to enjoy it. I had more than my share of laughs, which played at schizophrenic odds against the nausea I felt on the levels as an infertile and a surrogate.

Oh, where to begin? There’s a virtual smorgasbord of Things to Make You Cringe going on. I fully expected the writers and producers to take great liberties with the medical and technical aspects of infertility, IVF, and pregnancy, but let’s not even go there. The fact that the RE showed the transfer of the embryos in 3-D with great in yo’ face clarity on a flat screen TV and had the surrogate on an IV drip for the procedure are the least of my concerns.

The agency owner, breezily played by Sigourney Weaver, was the embodiment of Infertiles’ Public Enemy Number One. Imagine every shitty thing said to you in reference to your infertility incarnated in off-white suits and a phony smile. An agency owner with that degree of lack of empathy would not have enough clients to support the swanky digs that was her office.

Speaking of being – y’know – infertile, where were the tears? Tina Fey acted what was given to her effectively, but she what she received was all wrong. Upon being told that she had a 1-in-a-million chance of conceiving, instead of kill me now what we got was mildly miffed.

In the surrogacy circle, some who have seen the movie argue that the IM rubbed them the wrong way when she angrily called her surrogate white trash. Well umm…with the situation that prompted the comment, "white trash" was light. I’m sure that in the IM’s shoes, I could have rustled up some well-deserved curse words and thrown out some much harsher insults than white trash.

Given the plotline, if I was an infertile considering surrogacy as a means to build my family, I would have run from the theater screaming because the movie underlines every negative stereotype out there for surrogacy and surrogates. A money-motivated, skid row, immature woman who "discontinued high school prematurely" is about what I expected and that’s exactly what I got.

Infertility is to comedy as oil is to water; it’s a complicated pairing, because what the hell is so funny about not being able to conceive? Do I think it’s possible to pull off a comedic movie about infertility and still have it be palatable to real infertiles? Yes, but it would take skilled writing and directing in much the same way that Benigni was able to approach the Holocaust in Life is Beautiful. But whereas Life is Beautiful had a heavy dose of drama intertwined with the comedy, Baby Mama had very little, and what little there was was punctuated by a punchline.

Being a comedy, of course there was a "happy ending" and everyone predictably got what they wanted one way or another. I think the average fertile, non-surrogate viewers won’t leave the theater with any more of a warped impression of infertility and surrogacy that the media may have already given them, which is both a relief and a sad thing to say.
***An afterthought: At the beginning of the movie, Poehler’s character says that she’s "real good at gettin’ pregnant" yet she has no children. Let’s not even open THAT can of worms.

7 Comments

  1. luna on April 27, 2008 at 2:50 am

    thanks for the review. it’s no surprise, I guess. I was hoping for a laugh, but maybe I’ll save it for the small screen… ~luna



  2. Moxie on April 27, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Luna, it was still a funny movie and I think the average viewer will get what they came for and not be disappointed. Infertiles should just tread lightly when they view it, because depending on your frame of mind it’ll either piss you off or make you piss your pants from laughing so hard. I enjoyed it, but it’s impossible to leave the theater and not outline everything screwy with it.



  3. girlh on April 27, 2008 at 11:12 am

    i give you props for even going to the movie! i have a hard time watching the trailers alone. i hear ya on “depending on your frame of mind” and how it could be either funny or down right painful. as we infertiles know, sometimes it isn’t what is said or by whom or where, but what’s going on inside US at that very moment that interprets/affects everything.
    for me, though i do like to laugh (because honestly THANK GOD for laughter!) i will pass on the movie both in theater and on rental. just not sure i could do this without some tomato throwin’.



  4. Lady Bits on April 27, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Yup, think I’ll be avoiding that one. I’ll add it to the list…



  5. Lady Bits on April 27, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Yup, think I’ll be avoiding that one. I’ll add it to the list…



  6. Barb on April 30, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks for the synopsis! i was going to see it simply b/c I like those two actors, but maybe not now…



  7. Gigi on August 6, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Came over from Luna’s. Hats off to you for not losing your sense of humor.