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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

 

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Baby Mama [Blu-ray]

 

(Michael McCullers, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Universal Pictures & Relativity Media

Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 99 min.

Chapters: 20

Size: 25 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: September 9, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC

 

Audio:

English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio; Spanish & French DTS 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English, English SDH, Spanish & French

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Writer/Director Michael McCullers, Producer Lorne Michaels and Stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

• Picture in Picture Commentary for selected scenes

• U-Control

 

 

The Film:

It is said that tragedy is easy, comedy is difficult. Perhaps. But one thing's for sure: we are more judgmental about comedy than drama. We even choose our friends, and certainly our dates, according to what we think of their sense of humor. Even the exceptions we make, require moment. It's the rare fellow who enjoys the attack comedy of Roseanne Barr or Don Rickles on the one hand and the drawing room humor of The Importance of Being Earnest or the quiet wit of Barney Miller on the other. We often separate ourselves into Buster Keaton OR Charlie Chaplin camps; the Marx Brothers OR the Three Stooges. I wonder if there's room in one's tent for A Fish Called Wanda and Baby Mama. For me, it's largely a question of who we're expected to laugh at and why.

Otto is the target of our laughter, even as he laughs at Ken's stutter, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty or Archie Bunker. Michael McCullers is mostly interested in taking caricature to ridiculous lows. He is even willing to parody an already satirical character as he does with Sigourney Weaver's Chaffee Bicknell, who seems uncomfortably close to Working Girl's Katherine Parker. And what shall we say about Steve Martin's broad characterization of ego run amuck as Barry – a new age CEO who is so stuck on himself he thinks he get away with no last name, like Madonna!

The Movie: 4
Tina Fey plays Kate Holbrook, a successful career woman, desperately watching her biological clock tick away, until she learns that she's infertile anyhow. Kate hits upon the idea of checking into a fertility clinic headed by Ms. Bicknell, a woman whose manner loudly shouts Don't Play Here. We wonder why anyone with half a brain would pay her $10, let alone $100K, to find the perfect surrogate mom for Kate – slapstick humor without the slapping. Enter: poor white trash surrogate Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler) who, for reasons best left unsaid, moves in with Kate – and voilá: your stereotypical odd couple – not as funny, not as clever as Oscar & Felix, and nary a shred of insight or honest sentiment.



 


Image: 5/7.5
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVDs, including SD 480i.

I suspect the a theatrical viewing of this movie would not yield much more interesting results than this Blu-ray, which is less dull, less lifeless, than its new DVD counterpart. The image here is soft – vague might be a better word – and uninvolving. I have included a crop from both the DVD and Blu-ray for comparison.
 

 

Cropped - SD TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

(CLICK to ENLARGE)

 

 

 More Blu-ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/6
Front-loaded audio is expected for a dialogue-driven movie such as Baby Mama. Little if anything comes from the surrounds, which is as it should be. The dialog is clear enough so that I never felt the need for subtitle enhancement.



 

Operations: 9
This is my first Universal Blu-ray review and the menus (which I see are similarly laid out in the other two Universal Blu-rays I shall get to next week) are very cleverly laid out. I like the arrows that tells you which way to direct you remote, and the bonus feature
instructions are detailed and intuitive. High marks here.

 

Extras: 4
Curiously, the Blu-ray covers lists fewer extra features than the DVD – quite a few, in fact. The Saturday Night Live: Legacy of Laughter segment, From Conception to Delivery: The Making of Baby Mama, Deleted Scenes and the Alternate Ending that appear on the DVD are missing from the Blu-ray. In their place the high-def adds a picture-in-picture comment on a number of scenes and retains the running audio commentary.

 

 

Bottom line: 3
Not that the absent DVD bonus features makes for a choice here - the image is weak to start with and there's not much to recommend the audio. That said, clearly the Blu-ray is the way to go if this is your cup of comedy.

Leonard Norwitz
September 11, 2008

 

 

 

 

 


 

 





 

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