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"Baby Mama" a mixed bundle of joy

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Although it certainly sets the stage for some fertile comedy, “Baby Mama” -- which pairs Tina Fey with Amy Poehler -- never fully delivers.

Tina Fey, Sigourney Weaver and Amy Poehler in a scene from "Baby Mama". REUTERS/Universal Pictures/Handout

Backed by a crackerjack supporting cast, including Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin, the new-millennium take on “Baby Boom” serves up plenty of smart, knowing laughs early on, but by the time it hits the third act (or would that be trimester?), it barely crawls to the finish line.

In his feature directorial debut, screenwriter Michael McCullers knows how to craft a decent zinger, but his loopy brand of urbane humor really cries out for the skills of a seasoned comedy director with a proven knack for such crucial things as pacing and momentum.

The end result still should play very respectably with its targeted female audience -- especially those who can identify with Fey’s ticking clock -- but it likely will fall short of Judd Apatow levels.

Fey makes an effective transition from her Emmy-winning “30 Rock” character to that of Kate, the unmarried vice president of Round Earth Organic Market, the Whole Foods-esque chain presided over by an amusingly Zen Martin.

The only thing missing in Kate’s life is a baby, and after being informed by a fertility specialist that her odds of getting pregnant run about one in a million, she opts to visit a pricey surrogacy center run by the imposing Chaffee Bicknell (a wonderful Weaver).

But the woman chosen to carry her child -- Poehler’s gum-cracking, cocktail-swigging Angie Ostrowiski -- couldn’t be more different from buttoned-down Kate, and when the plot mechanics require that the two share close living quarters, the inevitable “Odd Couple” shenanigans ensue.

McCullers, who once shared an office with Fey when they were both writing for “Saturday Night Live,” manages to nail her wry sensibility while finally giving Poehler a feature platform worthy of her considerable “SNL” talents.

Unfortunately, his inexperience behind the camera is evident in too many missed comic opportunities -- either he steps on the laugh by hurrying a clever bit of business or weighs it down by giving it one beat too many.

Luckily, his expert cast -- also including Greg Kinnear as Fey’s fruit smoothie-dispensing potential love interest, Holland Taylor as her strongly opinionated mother, Dax Shepard as Poehler’s scheming common-law husband and Romany Malco as an all-seeing doorman manages to keep this baby sufficiently entertaining.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter