April 25, 2008

Women at the Box Office This Weekend: Baby Mama and Then She Found Me

This is a rare, good weekend for women at the box office. While I have not yet seen Baby Mama, I encourage everyone to go and see it. Here's why.

First, because Tina Fey and Amy Poehler rule! The first episode when Saturday Night Live returned after the writer's strike that Fey hosted was clearly the best in a long, long time. Secondly and more importantly, they are bucking the trend of the guy-centric comedies. I am so tired of Hollywood comedies being by and about the guys. While Baby Mama is written and directed by a guy (I'm waiting for Tina Fey to start directing her work too, but she is busy with 30 Rock so I'll give her a break) it's the first time in a long time that a female comedy duo has toplined a movie. When was the last one? Do we have to go all the way back to The First Wives Club? I'm no film historian but I can't remember a single female buddy comedy since then unless I want to count The Devil Wears Prada (which I don't.)

There is a lot of pressure of Fey and Poehler this weekend, and in turn the pressure is on all of us to support this movie. I can't understate the importance of this film doing well. If it does well maybe then, Hollywood will see that women can open a comedy and we might be given a reprieve from spending the rest of our lives seeing Judd Apatow comedies. (By the way, not all his films do well, but his juggernaut has not been threatened in any way.)

Here are some points from last weekend's LA Times piece on Baby Mama:

The unwritten rule of Hollywood comedies is like that classic admonition given boxers the night before a fight: Women weaken legs. Here the legs are a movie's potential at the box office. Which is why it seems unusual -- if not illegal -- for two females, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, to have the leads in a buddy comedy, "Baby Mama," opening Friday.

"Baby Mama" begs to differ. It's almost like an experiment in comedy science class: What if these roles went to funny women who've earned their shot at big-screen success?

Hollywood comedies are normally marketed to 14-year-old boys, but your movie is more adult and well-mannered than that. It's also about a sensitive issue -- women becoming single moms by choice. Do you think it's a harder sell for Universal because there's no movie star or large-breasted woman on the poster?

Poehler (laughs): Everything is a harder sell until it's a success and then it's not.

Fey: There was no movie star on the "Superbad" poster until they were movie stars.

Poehler: I think we both tend to be kind of late bloomers. We've always been attracted, both of us, to late bloomers in general anyway. There's a lot of women in comedy right now that are actually our age. It's the same kind of thing, really strong women, let's say who were mentioned in that Vanity Fair article. All similar age. I don't know what that means. Fey and Poehler gamble with 'Baby Mama'
On the other hand, for those in NY and LA, this weekend opens the Helen Hunt directed film Then She Found Me. The film will be rolling out across the country over the next several weeks. I LOVED THIS MOVIE. I can't say this more emphatically - it is a beautiful, touching film. Here's my review: Then She Found Me

So here's my suggestion (not that you asked): Women in NY and LA go and see Then She Found Me. This film needs our support desperately. We need to show that there is a market for these types of films so that it won't take Helen Hunt 10 years to make her sophomore effort.

Women in the rest of the country: Your assignment is to see Baby Mama. (I will let you know when Then She Found Me opens in your area.)

We need to support films by and about women cause if we don't, no one will.