Baby Mama

Starring:Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Romany Malco, Maura Tierney, Holland Taylor, Sigourney Weaver

Written By:Michael McCullers

Director:Michael McCullers

The other night, I had the pleasure of being able to watch Baby Mama, the newest cinematic take on pregnancy and motherhood, with both my good friend and the baby happily kicking away inside her belly. As we left the theater, we talked about the movie, about which scenes we liked the most, which lines were our favorites, and how much better it was than last week’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Not only was Baby Mama funny, its humor was original, relevant, and feel-good. Its jokes actually followed a plot. That plot intelligently explored the drastically shifting reality of what it looks like to be a woman and a mother in today’s society. And as my friend said, even though her fast-approaching role of Mommy has filled her with some anxiety, Baby Mama reminded her just how amazing her journey ahead and the tiny new partner with whom she will be sharing it will truly be.

The story of Kate Holbrook (Tina Fey), a 37-year-old career woman who is unable to have a baby, and Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler), the working-class woman she hires to be the surrogate mother for her child, Baby Mama is about a unique journey to motherhood shared between the two women and woven in and out of both timeless and modern realities that both women must deal with in order to reach that destination.

baby_mama2005.jpg (47 K)As the movie opens with the seemingly baby-filled world seen through Kate’s eyes, Kate’s message for us is that a baby is a truly amazing thing. For those of us who have not even started to think about having children or who can’t even remember life without children, the miracle of having a child and being a mother can be one we just don’t grasp or have simply forgotten. But for those women who have spent years unsuccessfully trying to conceive, the baby-shaped hole in the middle of their lives couldn’t be felt any deeper. And still single at 37, unable to conceive even after several In Vitro Fertilization treatments, and an unlikely candidate for adoption, Kate is one of those women.

As Kate tells Angie after she gets pregnant, “You have to remember, you are carrying something very precious.” For Kate that means trying to make sure Angie eats all the right foods, listens to all the right music, and does everything she can to take care of the baby growing inside of her. Unable to imagine that the child inside of her is anything more than a squirrel-shaped squiggle in a Polaroid, Angie could care less. Skip a few months and turn the baby into a reality Angie is actually able to grasp, however, and Angie’s quick shift from a Ding Dong diet to a slightly healthier menu shows us that there is a value in human life, and in a way that can’t help but grab hold of us all.

baby_mama2002.jpg (63 K)But as much as Baba Mama is a movie about embracing the priceless value of newborn life, it is almost even more so a story about recognizing the value in lives that have known a few more years. In a sense, Baby Mama is a female version of “the buddy comedy.” If Kate is Felix, Angie is Oscar. Their personalities, their backgrounds, their lifestyles, and even their eating habits couldn’t clash more. But as they are brought together by the common goal of bringing a baby into this world, they both end up teaching each other exactly what they need to learn, giving each other exactly what they are missing, and helping each other to see that in each of them is a truly amazing woman.

As Angie says to Kate, “I know I was supposed to help you have a baby, but you ended up teaching me how to be a great mother.” Where other characters tell Angie she isn’t good enough, smart enough, or worth enough to amount to anything, Kate encourages Angie to take care of herself and pursue what she is passionate about. “It made me feel so happy and it made me feel so important,” says Angie of being able to carry the baby. And it is through that sense of purpose and subtle encouragement that Angie is able to truly become more than she has ever been and take on more than she would have ever believed she could.

While Kate may be at the top of her game professionally, her personal life leaves her feeling less than adequate. The one date we see her on ends in disaster. The only man she has ever loved is married with a family of his own. And although she is about to become a mother, it is difficult to believe Kate’s many failures in trying to become one have boosted her confidence in maternal arena.

baby_mama2001.jpg (78 K)Thankfully, Kate has Angie. Although Angie’s antics may drive Kate crazy, you could say they end up being just the crash course Kate needs to both prepare her to raise a child and open herself up to meaningful connection with others. Through Angie, Kate is able to let go of a bit of her control and let in the reality that the best parts of life are often beyond our control. She meets a man. She falls in love. And in the end, it is nothing less than her newfound embrace of a life that can neither be controlled nor predicted by even her best strategies that takes her to exactly where she has wanted to be for so long.

At its core, Baby Mama is a story about the miracle of life. It is about the miracle of a new life—beautiful, amazing, and unlike anything else on this earth. It is about the value of lives already in existence—created for purpose, designed for connection, and loved both for all they are and all they are not. And it is about the reality of life as it happens all around us—greater than our grandest failures, bigger than our most elaborate plans, and ready and able to get us to exactly where we are supposed be by whatever path it must take to get there.

As David says to God in Psalms 139, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb&ellips; My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” And whether we are young or old, rich or poor, at the top of our game or still just trying to figure out our position, may we recognize what a blessing that reality is for every single one of us.

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