Kids are the worst. So are parents. Basically, don’t have kids.
The Ryan family is your typical, relatively boring suburban family just trying to get by without ripping each other’s heads off in the process. There’s Brent (Nicolas Cage), who is bored and wants to have a little more excitement; there’s Kendall (Selma Blair), who wants some more love and respect in the house; there’s Carly (Anne Winters), who is always feuding with her mom, dad, and little brother, and is doing what she can to get good grades and hopefully, move out somewhere far for college; and finally, there’s Josh (Zackary Arthur), who is just a little kid and doesn’t really know what’s going on. They’re all fine and dandy, until one day, parents from all over the city start to go crazy and take their anger out on their children. But why? Better yet, will this same issue affect the Ryan family and their idyllic lives?
Though I can easily say I’m a fan in the greatest-sense possible and without any irony whatsoever, it’s pretty hard following Nic Cage’s career. For the past four-to-five years, the man hasn’t done much outside the occasional prestige pic, except show up in these low-budget, straight-to-DVD pieces of junk that honestly, nobody should even be bothering with, let alone a former Oscar-winner. And yes, even though I’m a fan, I haven’t bothered with any of these movies because, well, they just look utterly and completely awful, without it even seeming like they’re using Nic Cage to the best of his ability. I may be missing out on something, but I’m probably not.
And with Mom and Dad, it seems like Nic Cage may finally be on the right path to retaining his glory-days.
I hesitate to go too far because even though Mom and Dad brings back Nic Cage to making possibly good movies again, it’s still not entirely his fault for it being pretty good. Mostly, it’s all chalked-up to the crazy and wild screenplay and direction from Brian Taylor (who’s taking a break from Mark Neveldine, who is also off on SyFy creating the pretty great Happy!) and the fact that he’s not afraid to allow this material to get so weird, so dark, so crazy, and so violent, but without ever seeming like he’s losing focus of what he’s going for. It would have been easy for him to just lose all control, throw whatever he could at the wall, and see if anything at all sticks, but there’s something of a method to Taylor’s madness and it’s what keeps Mom and Dad from going totally off-the-rails and into total crazy land.
It also helps that the movie’s pretty funny and, if you’re able to get down deep inside of its heart, wading through all of the blood, guts, gore, and hacked-limbs, you may be able to find a small, itty, bitty message about family and how we should love the ones we have, even if they can be pains in the asses. Sure, it’s hokey stuff, for sure, but Taylor seems to actually give some semblance of humanity here and not just allowing for all of the craziness to take over; even the first-half, which would typically be set-building and conflict-creation, actually works because the characters are well-defined and the dialogue they have to work with is smart and snappy.
Unfortunately, that also creates a problem for the movie later on, when it just totally becomes crazy and over-the-top. Is it still a fun movie? Of course. No one’s doubting that, but what I am doubting is whether or not it needed to go off the deep end so much that it absolutely had to abandon whatever it was going for in the beginning. Taylor’s proven himself as a director, but as a writer, he’s surprisingly witty and it’ll be interesting to see just where he goes on his career, if he continues to do stuff solo.
Guess we’ll have to see.
Guess we’ll have to also see whether or not Cage keeps with these relatively good movies, or simply, goes back to doing utter and total crap. Cage, as said before, is a joy to watch because he’s crazy and never ever stepping down from that, but it’s really Blair who steals the show, with her small, quiet, and simmering tension boiling throughout. Whereas Cage is screaming the hokey pokey while destroying a pool-table, Blair is standing there, patiently waiting to get her chance to speak and holding everything back. She’s a true mother in the general sense and it’s why she was a perfect choice for this role and holds even greater promise for things to come for her.
Let’s hope they all capitalize on it. Please.
Consensus: Though it eventually succumbs to total craziness, Mom and Dad is a wacky, wild, biting, and rather funny dark-comedy that finally gives Blair and Cage ample opportunity to unleash their wild sides.
6.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Momentum Pictures