i had some time on my hands today, b/t playing pin cushion at the Pink Palace of Pain and a few much needed loads of laundry, so i had planned to have sushi and then see a movie…by myself. not something i have ever done. as a general rule i tend to not do a lot of things by myself. i tend to not like eating out alone (though there was a spell in college where i enjoyed eating meals at the bar in restaurants, having a beer and watching “the game”), and i have never once gone to a movie all by myself. in fact many a time i have exploited the fact that i am a mother, that giving me decision making authority over the Kid, and have dragged her to a few movies so as to avoid going alone.
i was going to pick a movie that the Guy would have seen w/ me but really would not have enjoyed as much as i did. we tend to have pretty common movie interests, but we vary slightly. for example, he would have sat through Doomsday (i don’t know how anyone did), which was the first movie i have walked out of in years, and i actually wanted to indulge my since 198whatever crush on Patrick Dempsey and actually spent money on Made of Honor (hey! i liked his knobby knees in Can’t Buy Me Love! back off! and when no one knew who the hell the weird guy in With Honors was i was taking it all in!). i was going to see MOH, but there was no matinee, and the night showing was later than i wanted to see a movie. then i remembered that i hadn’t yet seen Baby Mama.
so i decided to spend my money on a movie that actually has two female leads.
i was so not sorry. [spoilers ahead]
i am not going to pretend that it was the greatest movie of all time, but it had some great moments. from a feminist perspective the first groantastic moment i had was how baby crazy Tina Fey’s character was. it seemed to be the poster for “don’t get too caught up in your career…no matter what you say now, you are going to want to indulge your biology some day!” sentiment that i think is a little too big in movies right now. there is a trend in movies these days that come off w/ great feminist themes, but really portray the female lead as a womb w/ legs. that being said, i always appreciate a movie that shows pregnancy the way i remember it…as total crap…as a feeling of science gone wrong w/ a few decent moments that make you choke up and say “aww”. Amy Poehler’s character described it as “it’s like you ate a meatball sandwich, and now it’s kicking you”. pretty much.
i felt that the writers did a decent job of showing how disturbing racism and classism can be as ugly characteristics in people we otherwise like, but there could have been more. i couldn’t help but notice that the only POC were portrayed as doormen or nannies, although the former was a good secondary character, and as i get more comfortable discussing race issues i feel i should point out that they gave him some stereotypical characteristics that make me groan. nope, didn’t like it.
but it had some good moments. Fey plays a woman who is a Vice President of a large scale chain of organic grocery stores. the youngest ever. Steve Martin’s character, while amusingly awkward, seemed to take her very seriously as an important person on the staff, someone he even favored (i will leave his “secret of success” advice alone). Fey’s character was very confident, if socially uncomfortable, driven, and seemingly comfortable w/ who she is. she tries to show Poehler’s character that she has great assets too, though i think the idea of hiring a woman to carry your baby for you leaves room for debate.
then there was Greg Kinnear, whom i did not know was going to be in this movie. i usually really like him in movies. here you have the huggy feel good guy, yucky corporate lawyer turned smoothie blending small business loving guy. two things struck me. at one point, “Kate” tells him that people think she is bossy and controlling. Kinnear’s “Rob” tells her “that’s only b/c you are a woman”. he goes on to explain that if she were a man she would be a dick. i am not sure if he was saying people are nicer to her b/c she is a woman, or if “bossy and controlling” are supposed to be seen as undesirable to most people, while apparently being a “dick” is fairly cool (to society, not these characters). i took it as the latter, but it’s open for discussion. the second thing that struck a chord w/ me, and i saw it totally negative, is a typical only in the movies scene where one person is trying to reveal a secret that they have kept from another person, but confusion runs amok while they try to get it out, and one character rambles on disapprovingly while the other person tries to get words out edgewise. here, “Rob” is babbling on and on about how surrogacy is akin to science fiction and that it is just a rich woman’s way of manipulating the world to get her own way, and “Kate” is trying to share w/ him, but he just keeps ranting on and on, and then finally turns on the radio to drown her out, her favorite song comes on, and he flippantly remarks on how he hates it (not to worry, eventually every thing works out OK for everyone”.
Fey’s character is shown rounded. while she is definitely likable and is established w/ her “good person” cred, she is shown to have some very negative traits in regards to class. it is obvious that she feels that she is a better person than “Angie” (the “baby mama”) b/c she is successful, cultured and eats vegetables. “Angie” is shown to be typical “white trash” america, stupid, ignorant, scheming to get the rich person’s money, and it is established that she has a string of unfavorable men in her life, and her jerk off of a “common law” husband is the star on the plastic x-mas tree.
over all, i approve. i laughed out loud so many times, i got a little choked up in a few places, and there were moments that enforced Tina Fey being on my “girl crush” list. i think it was a good movie w/ two great actresses leading the way. like most pop culture, we must take it w/ a salt lick, but as long as remember that movies are just movies and don’t try to make life lessons/morals to live by out of it, it can be a good time. i recognize the negative b/c i look for ways we take racism/classism/sexism/heteroism for granted, and i think that while this movies fails in some areas it makes a few steps forward in others.
but, as always, see it for yourself and then decide.