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Mom and Dad – Movie Review

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Mom and Dad – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy VVS Films

It’s possible to take even tasteless plotlines and make something mildly entertaining out of them. There are a number of points where Mom and Dad takes some interesting turns, but it mostly wants to be brainless entertainment. Sometimes, that works to its advantages and at other times, the possible commentary is lost under the mayhem. Director/writer Brian Taylor does craft a simple story and makes the stakes clear from the beginning. However, one wishes there was more invention beyond merely running and screaming. With a tone that’s all over the map and a strange use of flashbacks, Mom and Dad doesn’t entirely gel in the way it was likely hoping for.

There is potential terror in the concept of parents certainly turning on their children. Early on, the film even seems to be trying to comment on how offspring can drive their parents up a wall on occasion. However, that more or less flies out of the window when the chaos and carnage begins. When Mom and Dad begins with 1970s style opening titles, it’s obvious the route Taylor is hoping to go in. Yet the movie doesn’t become truly funny or truly shocking. It’s just sort of there as it moves from one set-piece to another. Taylor does deserve credit for not feeling the need to explain everything. Like some zombie films out there, no attempt is being made to scientifically explain the parents’ sudden want to kill their children and that’s perfectly fine.

At times, Daniel Pearl’s cinematography uses the steadicam to its advantage in showing the pristine suburban life of this family. However, a good chunk of the time, the camera moves uncontrollably and it becomes difficult to see what is happening. The shaky cam ultimately takes away from much of the terror. The actors do know how to handle the material, with Nicolas Cage going off his rocker as usual. Of course, Cage appears unhinged from the start. Selma Blair is impressive as she carefully makes the transition from tired mother to madwoman. Anne Winters also does a solid job as the teenage daughter, trying to make sense of all of this. Meanwhile, Lance Henriksen is fitting casting as Cage’s father.

The aforementioned use of flashbacks is odd. They add little to the story, other than to pad the short 83 minute runtime. The point may have been to contrast them with the more violent scenes that take up a large portion of the film, but they are jarring more than anything else. They mainly serve as back story for the characters we don’t really need. A few of the attempts at humour do land, primarily from Cage. He is one of those actors who is able to show a sudden change of expression and emotion and do it in a funny way. Occasionally, Cage’s hammy acting can harm a film and drag it to ridiculous levels. However, Mom and Dad is already ridiculous, so his approach fits.

Despite some moments of inspiration, Mom and Dad doesn’t quite stick the landing. It thankfully manages to avoid the bad taste that could come from a concept like this, primarily because of how over-the-top it is. However, maybe this would be better served as a short film. Mom and Dad does feel stretched out as it switches between well directed scenes and more hokey moments. Is Brian Taylor trying to make a commentary on parenthood? Most likely, but the overall message gets lost in the shuffle as it also attempts to make a humourous Roger Corman-style B-movie. One merely wishes there was a bit more under the surface.


Stefan Ellison

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