MOMENTUM PICTURES (2018)

 

Director: Brian Taylor

 

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Olivia Crocicchia, Brionne Davis, Samantha Lemole, Lance Henriksen, Robert T. Cunningham

That moment when your kid winds you up so much that you ram your car keys into their gullet.

 

Sound familiar? If so, get help.

 

Mom and Dad turns the tables on the Home Alone-esque idea of the youth turning on the oldies. This time around, the olds get a chance to wreak havoc on those pesky kids of theirs. Director Brian Taylor gives us a short, snappy black comedy-horror full of blood, violence and a kick-ass soundtrack and seemingly has a great time doing so.

 

The movie is resoundingly naff, however.

Overworked and overstressed parents Brent (Cage) and Kendall Ryan (Blair) have a big issue to contend with – their teenage daughter Carly (Winters) is a pain in the arse. Secret liaisons with boyfriend Damon (Cunningham), a dirty attitude and stealing from her mother’s wallet make up her biggest crimes and it’s causing her parents no end of stress. Her little brother Josh (Arthur) is just generally weird (dancing with guns in his pants...). The tables turn one day when, seemingly caused by a strange television signal, the parents in the neighbourhood all develop an unknown bloodlust for their own offspring – creating a surge of moppet murders.

 

Steaming in with an eighty-three minute runtime, Mom and Dad surely wastes no time in getting to the good stuff? Well, actually no. The good stuff occurs in the first half build-up, whereas the payoff is a large pile of ‘meh’. This is a strange movie that seemingly exists for the reason of...I’m not sure? The olds vs. youth is an intriguing idea, as is the idea of overstressed parents just hitting breaking point, but the movie doesn’t dare go into any depth with the themes, instead focusing on a tedious cat-and-mouse game in a few rooms of one house. It’s like a naffer version of The Purge (except there’s no Max Burkholder to be found here, thank God) and there’s far more negatives than positives overall.

 

If you like crazed Nicolas Cage (and c’mon, who doesn’t?) then you’ll certainly enjoy him in this. Maniac Cage returns in all his table smashing, can licking, head smashing, rubber faced shouting glory and he’s always enjoyable to watch when he’s on screen, which isn’t that much to be honest. His reaching to the sky before slamming a face into the floor was a joy to watch. He is the epitome of elephant in the room here, though. Selma Blair and Anne Winters are both good in their roles, though Winters is forced to spend the entire movie in an ill-fitting school uniform. Lance Henriksen rocks up for a fun cameo towards the end which comes out of nowhere and everyone seems to be having a blast within their characters. I’m sure it was a fun movie to participate in.

 

I preferred the first half of Mom and Dad compared to the second. The strange sensation of having no idea what was going on whilst it was evidently clear that something was bubbling beneath the surface was intriguing. When zoned out parents began hankering for some child blood, accompanied by a stabbing, visceral soundscape, the movie became interesting and the question of ‘what’s causing this?’ began to play in my mind. The answer is tossed away and largely unexplained which viewers will either love or hate – I wasn’t a huge fan of the execution. Once the intrigue dies, the movie dives into slasher-(own) home invasion territory and just becomes cliché and unexciting. The writing is uninspiring – despite a nice monologue from Cage regarding middle aged life versus the nostalgic glances back to youth – and at times, dire. There are lazy stereotypes (drunk black father, Chinese housekeeper complete with novelty accent and mistaken nationality) abound and things happen that seem to be quickly forgotten (someone is shot in the arm, but shows no effects as they rampage on) – maybe that was the intention of Taylor...? On top of this all, the action scenes aren’t anything to get excited about, which is a big blow when the movie seemingly relies on ‘cool’ violence.

 

An interesting take on the horrors of the midlife crisis quickly descends into middling mundanity as any hope of depth is blown away by tensionless ‘action’. Not everything has to have some deep meaning or touching message, but when there’s a clear theme it’s nice to put some meat on the bones rather than “I miss being young so I’m going to butcher my kid.” Nicolas Cage is immensely watchable (hurrah!) and Mr. Bill’s soundtrack is great, but those aside, there’s not much to take from Mom and Dad.

January 29th 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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