By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Baby Nah Nah
Sorry… but comedy is harder than it looks… even for pros who are strapping on the directing jodhpurs for the first time.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall was a terrific idea with some interesting talent, desperately in need of a director and a producer. And now, Baby Mama is a terrific idea with two extremely compelling actresses… in desperate need of a producer to tell the writer that, 1) he can’t direct and 2) that the script needs work on the story level and 3) just because Mike Myers improved a lot of Wayne’s World does not mean that Amy Pohler can save his story problems by making faces, even if she gets laughs.
Universal is smartly selling only the first act of Baby Mama, because if they told you where it was going, you wouldn’t show up. People want to see the uptight working woman learn about life from the wild white trash chick. But someone told writer/”director” Mike McCullers that the big heartwarming turn that is an old tradition on these films would be a good idea. But it misses by a mile. The hard part is that fightingthe studio “make the characters more likeable” thing was right too. But the “not obvious” choices must be elegant. It’s just that making warmth work from the bones of a farce is a mile tall order… few make it… as is proven again here.
We’re getting more and more of these near-miss comedies in light of the Apatow success. And I find it wildly frustrating, as in both of these cases, a better movie was sitting there, waiting for a bright, critical voice pushing the writers and first-time directors to be more demanding of themselves. (There is a reason why Apatow hires unexpected, but experienced and hungry directors for so many of the films he produces.)