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Nicolas Cage – Brent Ryan
Selma Blair – Kendall Ryan
Zackary Arthur – Josh
Anne Winters – Carly
Olivia Crocicchia – Riley
Brionne Davis – Tanner
Mom and Dad. What a shocking movie – in every sense of the word.
Its story is built on the sinister concept of any and all parents everywhere overcome with a sudden urge to want to or kill – or badly harm – their own children. Truly shocking. How the movie plays out is just terrible; it’s so shabby and amateur you’d think it was fresh from the backpack of a college student studying Media. The opening credits contain character stills and are shown in a style similar to technicolour (imagine a Tarantino film), with “Mom and Dad” appearing over a suburban neighbourhood backing like a 1950’s soap opera. The closing credits however, burst into soundtrack of black metal music with an abrupt title stamp on screen. The intro’s and finales of this movie are disjointed, lacking consistency to the point of confusion, as though the producers didnt know if they coming or going when throwing it all together. Almost every aspect of this movie is incredible – in a bad way. Which makes it shit, but also strangely watchable..
Imagine a melding of The Happening (2008) and 28 Days Later (2002), and voilà – you get Mom and Dad. This movie takes a bizzarely interesting idea and mixes in a huge dose of vulgar humour to create its end product. This humour is part of its downfall though, with most scenes and interaction between characters being highly immature. From the father’s peverse mentality to the mother’s childlike attitude, this movie is utter trash which highlights what happens when seemingly normal parents throw their morals out the window. But before any of the murderous activity kicked off, I couldn’t quite fathom why the titular parents were so spectacularly immature in their normal daily lives.
Brent (Cage) appears unhinged as he swaggers around the family home. One second he’s sharing a joke with his wife, next second he’s yelling at her. The most strangest of moments comes when he trips over a child’s toy on the carpet and suddenly snaps – and stares down at his son with an aggressive look on his face like he wants to beat the shit out of him. His son (Ryan) immediately clams up and backs off, terrified.. and suddenly Brent starts laughing wildly at his joke. The man is like a forty-something hormonal schoolboy, it’s bizarre to watch.
Kendall (Blair) is a character I couldn’t make out from the beginning. The woman doesn’t seem to have a job and stands around in the family’s kitchen sipping coffee from a mug, whilst staring into the distance. Mom clearly has issues but these are unexplained as the movie continues with not one family member enquiring into her wellbeing, thus remaining a bleak mystery.
A few minutes later, a scene change, and Kendall is sat in a local coffee shop with a friend who is of similar age. Except something seems very strange; both women act incredibly immature. Glancing up through her eyelashes at her friend whilst sucking her drink through a straw, Kendall whinges about recent events like a teenage girl. Her friend then does the same, before both of them suddenly start bitching about their daughters like two jealous school friends. I had no idea what was going on during this scene, why the director got these women acting so cringeworthingly childlike. Perhaps it was a case of the director having one of those “ingenious” ideas..
“OK guys, let’s give a portrayal of childish behaviour through the parent. That way the audience get a true meaning of how a child is reflected in its parents eyes, before that parent takes control of the child’s life..”, blah blah blah. I couldn’t give a crap if the director was trying to be symbolic (if he was) – Blair’s character with her bobbing head, sulking facial expressions and sloppy mannerisms was just plain stupid.
One thing surprised me during Mom and Dad. The fact that both parents – together – could not break down a single wooden door. A scene well into the movie sees Carly and Josh lock themselves in the basement of their family home. Both kids enter, slam the door, lock it, and try to wait it out as parents everywhere go Bear Grylls on their children. Cue Brent and Kendall nastily throwing themselves against the basement door trying to get closer to their children. Kicking, smashing with their fists, even power tools are used.. and yet neither parent can gain access.
All parents in town have suddenly gained super aggressive strength – and these two can’t even break a door in. Yawn.
Added to this plot fail is Josh’s superb ability to reveal his and his sister’s location – when they are trying to hide from their parents. The classic movie idiot, he drops things – coughs – screams – bumps into a shelf – basically does everything he can to be heard, even though he knows how dangerous the parents are. Not great.
Another thing Mom and Dad drastically lacks is people asking why. Why what’s happening to the parents is happening. At particular points of the movie live news reports come from various areas, news crew interviewing members of the public on the situation. But do any of their questions cover the reasoning of it?.. no. There isn’t even an interview with a parent directly asking WHY they are doing it. The first question on everybody’s lips is totally overlooked. Epic let-down in the plot there.
With its extreme lack of plot explanation, ill-timed soundtrack, awful structure, brief screen time and absolutely no character background, Mom and Dad has joined many others from the last few years as being one of the most shabby attempts at entertainment I have ever seen. It’s so void of substance and meaning that I can only liken it to one of those independent films you catch on music channels – like MTV – late at night.
On a positive, some of the work put into this movie is actually not bad at all. Surprisingly though, it’s the backing cast and extras who provide this. A prime example is the school pick-up scene, where hundreds of parents descend on the building in order to – literally – get their children. This scene is undoubtedly filled with rising tension, dropping the viewer in to the middle of a dangerous and unpredictable situation. The concentrated expressions on the parents faces as they stand waiting for their children are sinister. Men and women patiently stood looking through the school gates and outer classroom doors, preparing to pounce.. the backing cast who play this scene are just superb, drowning the movie in an atmosphere of sheer dread. It’s eerie stuff. Top marks here.
So, Mom and Dad.
Let me narrow it down:
Would I purchase the DVD if I spotted it in Asda at their usual new release price of £10.00?
Would I purchase the DVD if I noticed it online for £6.00?
Would I stop in the Entertainment aisle of Poundland after seeing Mom and Dad on the DVD shelf (helplessly tilting against the likes of other tripe such as Knocked Up and Pitch Black), grab it and think, “ah, might aswell” as I walk to the checkout?
Mom and Dad may be complete shite from beginning to end, but it’s worth a watch if only for its truly surreal concept. And let’s face it, in this day and age as Hollywood digs desperately to the bottom of a very dry pit of film ideas, this one is probably one of the most unique. This movie is awful but watchable at the same time.
Strange but true.