Tina Fey Goes Big in 'Baby Mama'

Get prepped for the cineplex with reviews from Metro critic Daniel Holloway. This week he looks at a Deception, a new movie from Errol Morris about Abu Ghraib and Tina Fey's leap to the big screen.

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

You cannot really lose with Judge Joe Brown as a character. I think that is always a win-win.

MIKE PESCA, host:

Judge Brown drew applause, as opposed to the movies of Mr. Snipes. Friday means popcorn and multiplexes, speaking of movies, and it is the multi that is the problem. So many movie screens. The struggle of what to put on them, so what we need to do is turn to someone to be our guide, to that which is good.

MARTIN: Who should that be?

PESCA: Let's - well, there are two of us in the studio, and here is a third person. So let's ask him.

MARTIN: Let's talk to him.

PESCA: Whoever he may be. What is your name?

Mr. DANIEL HOLLOWAY (Film Critic, The Metro): My name is David Addlestein.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: I am sorry, under contract, we cannot use you, so we will interview you, and pretend you are Daniel Holloway, the film critic from Metro Newspapers. Fair enough?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Just as good.

PESCA: Right, first movie up, "Baby Mama."

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yup.

PESCA: Let's - well, if you listen to this show, you know it is a movie...

MARTIN: That's cold.

PESCA: You know that we're obsessed with "30 Rock," the Tina Fey comedy show.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Like most people.

PESCA: And on "Saturday Night Live," Amy Poehler is just - she's in every sketch, because they cast her on sketches, and she's fantastic. So you put these two together, and I think we're really hoping that it's a good movie. But let's hear a clip. In this scene, Fey meets the couple who will be carrying her baby.

(Soundbite from movie "Baby Mama")

Ms. TINA FEY (Actress): (As Kate Holbrook) What do you do, Carl?

Ms. AMY POEHLER (Actress): (As Angie) Carl is a inventor-slash-entrepreneur

Mr. DAX SHEPARD (Actor): (As Carl) Yeah. I'm still looking for that homerun, you know? I mean, when I saw the iPod the first time, I was like, you know, I could have kicked myself.

Ms. POEHLER: (As Angie) It was so hard on him.

Mr. SHEPARD: (As Carl) Now we're pretty tight on cash.

Ms. FEY: (As Kate Holbrook) So that led you to surrogacy?

Mr. SHEPARD: (As Carl) Yeah, I gotta say, when I first thought about Angie carrying someone else's baby, I felt weird about it. Then I thought, Oh my God, my wife's got to have sex with someone else's husband to do this?

Ms. POEHLER: (As Angie) Out of the question.

Mr. SHEPARD: (As Carl) That's going to cost extra. It's out of the question.

PESCA: That's not how it works.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: No. That's not how it works.

PESCA: Darren, what did you think of this movie?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: You know, being a fellow "30 Rock" freak, and, you know, I saw the movie a couple of nights ago. And last night, I was watching "30 Rock." And as I was watching it, I was thinking, this is how good the movie should have been.

PESCA: Right.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: But unfortunately was not. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, they worked together for several years at "Weekend Update" on SNL and have a great comic rapport. And a lot of the jokes are really funny. Unfortunately, this movie falls all over itself trying to be a chick flick. And, you know, I mean, it's still Tina Fey, so it's not going to be, you know, all pink and frilly and shopping and stuff. But it tries to be very sweet and appeal to the sort of people who go see Sandra Bullock movies. And it lacks - it takes away that sort of bite...

MARTIN: That edge.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: That you want from something with comedians who are this good at it.

PESCA: But then again, they didn't write or direct it.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: No. It was written by Michael McCullers, who was a writer back when Fey was the head writer on SNL. And they did - I believe I read something where Fey and Amy Poehler did do rewrites on some of the gags. And the jokes and the gags in the movie are great, but the flow of it - you know, there is this awful romantic sub-plot with Greg Kinnear shoehorned into it.

MARTIN: Greg Kinnear. Romantic subplot.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah. Just maybe not the right guy. I will give it this, though. Basically, Tina Fey is playing Liz Lemon, a little bit more buttoned up. But she is playing Liz Lemon, and if you could kind of look at it as being based on the same relationships that she has in "30 Rock." Amy Poehler's sort of playing Tracy Morgan's character.

MARTIN: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Tracy Morgan. Or the one-legged flatulent stripper.

Mr. EDELESTEIN: Yes. The one she plays on SNL, yeah.

PESCA: To be fair, I don't think she's a stripper, just, you know. A trailer-type person.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: She's - yeah, just a person of, you know...

PESCA: Trailer-ocity.

Mr. EDLESTEIN: Trailericiousness. I lived in a trailer for six years, so I don't judge. But, and then Steve Martin plays the chief executive at the organic grocer that Tina Fey works at.

MARTIN: Oh, I didn't know he was in that. That's fun.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yes. And he is kind of playing like the hippy-dippy version of the Alec Baldwin character, which is all of the best - just like in "30 Rock," all of the best scenes are with Tina Fey and Baldwin. In this movie, all the best scenes are with Tina Fey and Steve Martin. And thank God Steve Martin is in something where - that actually makes me laugh again. Because I think it's been about 16 years since that happened.

PESCA: Yeah.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: So it sounds like, "Baby Mama" would make a great sitcom for a half hour.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Errol Morris, to go from the ridiculous to one of the nation's best documentarians. He got a guy exonerated in "Thin Blue Line," "Fast, Cheap & Out of Control," with those topiary gardeners and the fascinating people that he follows. "The Fog of War," I think, did he win the Oscar for that? I think he did.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I believe he did.

PESCA: So that was all about Robert McNamara. And he does great thinks with cinematography, but even the way he interviews someone is different from anything else you'll see on film. And so his new film is called "Standard Operating Procedure." From the trailer, it looks like Morris talked to just about everyone involved in Abu Ghraib. The military police, interrogators. What does he get out of them?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: You know, not necessarily new information, but probably information that the average viewer does - has not seen before. Basically, what this is is kind of a post-mortem done in typical Morris style, fixed camera, straight interview. And slicing up interviews that he did with several of the guards, a brigadier general who's in charge of prisons in Iraq and later was removed from that post. The gentleman who was in charge of the investigation that put several of the guards after what happened at Abu Ghraib into military prison. Other people are interviewed.

PESCA: Basically, what Morris is doing is giving us a sort of sympathetic look at the guards, trying to humanize them.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah.

PESCA: Trying to let them tell their stories so that we maybe understand what happened inside the prison.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Right. And he does that - it's interesting because almost to a person, what the guards do - Lindy England is in this film, and it's funny. You can tell, almost to a person, they all feel some sort of deep level of guilt over what happened there. And they all kind of feel like it wasn't their fault. And in a sense, it was not their fault. You do get this very clear picture that they're put in conditions in which, you know, a lot of people would have done what they did. Even though it's hard to imagine doing what they did. And that no one of higher rank than staff sergeant was punished for anything that happened there. And it's easy to forget about this. It's been several years now already. I think early 2004 when Abu Ghraib broke. But it's really weird when you see Lindy England looking into the camera and kind of excusing their - her own behavior, and saying, well, we didn't kill them, we didn't cut their heads off. You know, after you've seen pictures of her holding a naked man by a leash.

PESCA: Yeah. I read an article that he wrote in The New Yorker about one of the guards. And it was the best thing I ever read about Abu Ghraib. At least it explained that one guard to me, and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie. ..TEXT: On to another film, with a title like "Standard Operating Procedure." This is a movie called "Deception." It stars Ewan McGregor and Michelle Williams and Hugh Jackman. The deal with the movie title "Deception," I was thinking about this. It's the most common movie title there is. And I looked it up on IMDB. Not including video games, 20 movies have been named "Deception"...

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Over the years. And one of them was later renamed "Reindeer Games," with Ben Affleck.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Oh.

PESCA: So it curses movies that are named "Deception," and that used to be named "Deception." But let's first listen to a clip from a generic-sounding movie.

(Soundbite from movie "Deception")

Mr. EWAN MCGREGOR (Actor): (As Jonathan McQuarry) I need to speak with you about Wyatt.

Unidentified Actress: Sorry, I don't know any Wyatt.

Mr. MCGREGOR: (As Jonathan McQuarry) You left him a message asking him to meet you here.

Unidentified Actress: But you said that...

Mr. MCGREGOR: (As Jonathan McQuarry) What? No, look, I just need a few answers. My name is Jonathan McQuarry. I need to know about Wyatt.

Unidentified Actress: I told you. I don't know any Wyatt.

Mr. MCGREGOR: (As Jonathan McQuarry) That's his name.

Unidentified Actress: No!

Mr. MCGREGOR: (As Jonathan McQuarry) It's the name of the guy you called! I'm sorry. I'm really in trouble. And this guy, he's dangerous.

PESCA: So that's Ewan McGregor, right.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah.

PESCA: What did you think of him and what did you think of the movie?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: What I thought of the movie, it's, you know, I'm sitting there about 45 minutes into the movie and checking my watch, and thinking, you know, it's funny what passes for sexy in movies. Like you have to have, like, all this music, like...

(Soundbite of humming)

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Then a little, like...

(Soundbite of a beat)

Mr. EDELSTIEN: And then, like, there's lots of shots of skyscrapers and people in suits. And women in, like, pumps and short suit skirts. And, you know, then everyone's always taking their top off. I don't know, it's just, it's weird. Ewan McGregor, you know, I love him. He's Obiwan Kinobe, you know. He's Renton from "Trainspotting." But, jeez, I mean I wish he'd be in a good movie already. He's - it's been - you know, he just never has been, it seems like. He does a good - he seems to be trying very hard in this movie. He plays a sort of, not schlubby, but kind of, you know, introverted accountant who gets caught up in a sex club of highly attractive, highly powerful women who are far too busy to find their own one night stands.

PESCA: Right. Happens all the time.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah. And this leads to trouble, of course. And trouble comes in the form of Hugh Jackman, who, you know, is just walking around being handsome and suave.

PESCA: OK, bottom line. Were you deceived? Did it deliver on the title?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. EDELSTIEN: I was not deceived, but I did feel violated.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: And we have one more piece of housekeeping as far as deception goes. You told us you'd bee seeing "Harold and Kumar's Escape from Guantanamo Bay." Did you see that?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I did not see Harold and Kumar.

PESCA: Get out. Then get out.

MARTIN: Get out of this studio!

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Let me explain something.

MARTIN: You have 30 seconds to do it.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I lost my bong.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOLLOWAY: And I figured, what was the point? What was the point?

PESCA: Well, Daniel Holloway is a friend of the BPP until now...

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: And a film critic for Metro newspapers. And he will be seeing "Iron Man" and "Love and Sunshine" next week.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: I promise.

PESCA: Thanks a lot, Daniel.

MARTIN: Thanks, Dan.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Thanks, guys.

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