My love of Parks and Recreation (2009-2015) is well documented. If you are new to The Legionnaire, now you know. It is because of the dear place that show holds in my heart that I noticed a long-forgotten film from the deep recesses of my memory, Baby Mama (2008). It stars two best friends who are that way both on and off the screen, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Amy Poehler is the common thread between the sitcom and the film, and that memory is what made my choice for me this night. Most people might not remember it. I certainly did not, and my recent re-viewing did not reveal anything that many would be attracted to by it. That is unless you are a Parks and Recreation fan. There are several cameos by actors and actresses that have both big and small roles in the funniest television show of all time. Yeah, I said it. Still, as we shall see, there are also some aspects of Baby Mama that appealed to this practicing Catholic.
It is Katherine “Kate” Holbrook (Tina Fey) who wants to be a Baby Mama. She has decided this after making herself a career woman, pursuing promotions with the company with which she works, Round Earth. In turn, she sacrificed a dating life and the opportunity to get married. Because of her long absence from the dating scene, her forthcomingness while out with men about her desire to have a baby almost immediately scares them away. She is also told some difficult news by her gynecologist (John Hodgman): that she was a “T” shaped uterus, making it virtually impossible for her to conceive a child. At dinner with her family, her sister Caroline (Maura Tierney), who has a growing family of her own, suggests adoption. Kate says this is something she has already explored, and that it could take years. The next idea is to hire a surrogate, somebody who carries your child for you. Initially, Kate does not find this possibility appealing. What convinces her is, following yet another upward career move, she starts seeing babies everywhere. Thus, she turns to Chaffee Bricknell (Sigourney Weaver), who is a surrogate agent. She puts Kate in contact with Angela “Angie” Ostrowski (Amy Poehler) to carry Kate’s baby . . . and charges $100,000 to do so. Kate pays it because she is desperate, which also makes her unaware of what she is getting herself into with Angie. When the baby-mother-to-be gets to Kate’s upscale Philadelphia apartment, she pulls up in her common-law husband’s beat Suzuki Ninja. His name is Carl Loomis (Dax Shepard), and it is clear that he is only in it for the money. Nonetheless, that desperation causes Kate to forge ahead with Angie, and the artificial insemination takes place. Not long thereafter, Angie leaves Carl and shows up at Kate’s door. Because Angie is carrying what Kate believes to be her baby, Kate takes Angie in and lets her stay. This also allows Kate to keep a closer eye on the wild acting Angie, though Angie sees it more as controlling. This little bit of extra craziness goes along with Kate’s boss, Barry Waterman (Steve Martin), who is putting the responsibility of finding a local location for Round Earth’s new flagship store. While walking various neighborhoods, she decides to step into a smoothie store called Super Fruity. It is like Jamba juice, which is a running gag. Her patronage is met with friendliness from Rob Ackerman (Greg Kinnear), the owner and proprietor. Though they do not immediately hit it off, eventually a romance begins forming between the two. In the meantime, Angie is not showing as one would expect of somebody with a pregnancy. That is because her initial plan had been to scam Kate out of the money for the procedure. Yet, even Angie begins to feel remorse, particularly as they had begun to bond as roommates and sisters. Neither is Kate saying anything to Rob about the surrogacy. There is yet another kicker, though. As it turns out, Angie actually is pregnant, but she is sure that it is not the fertilized egg that Kate had her doctors implant inside Angie. It is only when the ultrasound is done that she realizes there is another life growing inside her. Egged on by the wise doorman, Oscar Priyan (Romany Malco), at Kate’s building, Angie resolves to admit the truth to Kate. The problem is finding the right moment. What does not seem like the right time is the big baby shower the Holbrook’s throw for their new child about to enter this world. The admission is precipitated nonetheless by an uninvited guest, Carl. He shows up and begins loudly spilling Angie’s secrets, causing her to breakdown and open up to Kate. The situation is compounded by Rob’s arrival, who not only had yet to find out about the surrogacy, but is also broken up with by Kate. Everyone goes their separate ways and tries to carry on with their lives. The next time they are all together is at a court case to reveal to whom the baby belongs, Rob being there as Angie’s legal counsel since he has once been a lawyer. The long and short of all this is that they apologize to one another. Not long after the trial, Angie goes into labor and Kate is on hand to take her to the hospital. Kate faints watching the delivery, leading to her own hospital stay. Coming to, she finds out that a small miracle has happened: that she, too, is pregnant. We then fast forward to a year later and everyone’s kids are playing with one another at Angie’s daughter’s first birthday party.
Perhaps it is because Baby Mama was made in 2008 that I did not find much of it funny. Still, I watched it because of Fey and Poehler. However, there is some merit to it as well, and it speaks to my Catholic side. Given what I have said about the film already, you may guess where this is going. Indeed, one might say the main message is pro-life, even if there is a little bit of promiscuity involved. At one point, Kate refers to the ability to have children as being a gift from God. This is definitely in keeping with Church teaching. What is at odds with Church teaching is surrogacy itself. Oddly enough, the film seems to be against the concept, too. At first, Kate is weird about it. The surrogacy also loses its attractiveness after Angie tells the truth. Kate is aware of alternatives to this process, but has grown impatient with them. Catholicism does not allow for such practices because, in a sense, you are gift from God and He wants us to experience it if that is what we are called to do. This is the point at which everyone’s story in the movie comes to in the end, sans the religion.
Baby Mama is decent enough to be mildly entertaining for a night on the couch with a loved one. The point I was trying to make is that the characters in the film talk about protecting life. In fact, one of the claims by one of the characters is that Angie is carrying a human being. That is a rare thing for anyone in Hollywood to say.