Critic's Picks: Tina Fey Films Ranked Worst to Best

2:23 PM 3/4/2016

by John DeFore

THR film critic John DeFore ranks the 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' star's often disappointing movies.

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Tina Fey is one of the funniest people in showbiz. (Not "funniest women," you are-women-funny? dunces.) She's responsible, or shares responsibility, for some of the most explosive pairings of cultural commentary and plain-old zaniness to hit TV in the last decade. Why aren't her movies better?

It makes sense for Fey to start looking for vehicles like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which will stretch her range and keep her active after (please, Lord) Sarah Palin is a distant memory and a 30 Rock reunion becomes an impossible dream. But most SNL vets who go full actor-turned-thespian do us the favor of delivering a few big-screen comic gems along the way. Fey, not so much: Combing through the reviews for her pictures, one sees an infinite variation on the old critical hedge: This movie is pretty lame, but we love Tina Fey and at least it's better than X.

Why isn't Fey writing movies for herself to star in? (And if she is, why isn't Hollywood making them?) And why can't she pass on projects whose scripts read like dishwater compared to the strong brew of an average 30 Rock episode? Here's an assessment of her big-screen career to date, with the requisite "at least it's better than —" (ALIBT) thrown in to make us feel better about each.

  1. 7
    7

    Sisters

    Courtesy of Photofest

    If Fey and Poehler, both riding high on beloved TV series, didn't have enough clout to make this film what they wanted it to be, will they ever? Which raises the question: Was this bottom-scraping riff on sibling love-hate something they actually thought was hilarious?

    ALIBT: Um, give us a minute...

    Read THR's film review here.

  2. 6
    7

    Admission

    Courtesy of Photofest

    If Baby Mama was an epic ladies-in-comedy disappointment, this Paul Weitz pic deflated rom-com fans who like their movie crushes to be intelligent: Put smart-and-sexy Fey in a room with dreamy-but-sharp Paul Rudd, and this is the best you can do?

    ALIBT: They Came Together

    Read THR's film review here.

  3. 5
    7

    Date Night

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Neither Fey nor Steve Carell is ordinary enough to pass for a square spouse in this formula-bound Shawn Levy action-comedy, which relies on our believing they've spent years sinking into bourgeois ennui.

    ALIBT: The Out-of-Towners (1999)

    Read THR's film review here.

  4. 4
    7

    Baby Mama

    Courtesy of Photofest

    A plot pregnant (sorry) with feminist potential was a great opportunity for the first feature teaming best buds Fey and Amy Poehler. So why did this broad and cliche-stuffed, only intermittently funny comedy rehash modern-gal ideas that hadn't been rethought since the '80s?

    ALIBT: What to Expect When You're Expecting

    Read THR's film review here.

  5. 3
    7

    The Invention of Lying

    Courtesy of Photofest

    In a supporting role, Fey brings the right level of harshness to this high-concept Ricky Gervais creation — a movie that, though not 100% successful, is a better example of a TV-based comedy star swinging for the fences than anything Fey has done yet in movies.

    ALIBT: The other Gervais/Fey team-up, Muppets Most Wanted

    Read THR's film review here.

  6. 2
    7

    This Is Where I Leave You

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Met at its release by moviegoers' understandable fatigue with family-reunion movies, this adaptation of Jonathan Tropper's novel got a worse rap than it deserved. It laid groundwork for Fey to star in straighter dramas, while getting enough laughs to prevent too much disappointment among her fans.

    ALIBT: Death at a Funeral

    Read THR's film review here.

  7. 1
    7

    Mean Girls

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Fey wrote this look at cliques and backstabbing among high school girls, and though she only plays a supporting role to Lindsay Lohan (her teacher), it feels more like her film than anything she has starred in to date.

    ALIBT: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

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