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Scene-Stealer: Steve Martin

Why our critic loves the comedic actor in ”Baby Mama”

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As Barry, the go-go guru in Baby Mama who runs the Round Earth health-food grocery chain and keeps Tina Fey hopping as his employee, Steve Martin wears a dumb Thomas Jeffersonian ponytail and an expression of beatific Zen-capitalist satisfaction that give him the comedy edge on his less eccentrically outfitted cast. But Martin, in a generous, controlled performance that’s a complement to Fey’s own comedy chops, doesn’t let the wig run the show. Instead, he finds perfect details with which to convey the exact contours of Barry’s cosmos, a place where green means money as well as eco-consciousness. When the boss rewards his star employee with five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact for a job well done or brandishes a tiny beach shell as the inspiration for the newest Round Earth retail outlet, Martin, at heart a portrait miniaturist, imbues each gesture with an intensity as tender as it is silly.