Dir. Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Robert T. Cunningham, and Olivia Crocicchia.
Nicolas Cage is hit and miss, but you can’t deny that he always swings for the fences. He always goes big. It doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s glorious, and when it doesn’t it can make terrible movies much more entertaining. It’s been awhile since his 90’s heyday, but every now and then Cage delivers a barnstrormer of a performance, such as his great Adam West impression in Kick-Ass. Here he teams up with director Brian Taylor, best known as one half of the director duo that bought us Crank, and Gamer, and has previously worked with Cage on the disappointing Ghost Rider sequel. Taylor specialises in high energy, high concept films designed to offend, and they don’t come more high concept or offensive than Mom and Dad.
Mom and Dad is a very simple concept. It centres around parents Brent and Kendall Ryan, played respectively by Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair. They’re both going through their own version of a mid-life crisis, worrying about growing old, and dis-liking the people they’ve become. They have two children; teenage daughter Carly, played by Anne Winters, and young son Josh, played by Zackary Arthur. When American parents start randomly killing their own offspring, Cage and Blair are affected as well, and will do anything to murder Carly and Josh.
The aim here is to make a zombie movie, or a horror movie along the lines of The Crazies, but instead of the undead it’s parents after the kids. It combines elements of the Dawn Of The Dead remake, with Stephen Kings Cell, and a streak of satirical black comedy. It doesn’t hit the same heights as the former film, but is much more entertaining than the adaptation of the latter. I found there’s almost two films to review here, the first half of the movie, and the second half. The first half is terrible. Focusing on the relationship between Selma Blair’s Kendall and her on screen daughter Carly. The characters aren’t particularly likeable and the dialogue is generic, bordering on cheesy. There’s an attempt to give these scenes some kinetic energy with some fast paced editing, but it’s jarring, grating, and annoying.
It takes Taylor awhile to settle on a tone, trying to invoke 70’s exploitation movies, but the first half comes across as a stale horror movie. The satirical comedy is either just not funny, or too obvious. Wow, teenagers like phones. The high bar for this kind of movie is still Shaun Of The Dead, and this film doesn’t come close. The worst thing is the soundtrack, annoying and distracting in equal measure, it’s even more inconsistent in tone than the film. There’s also a distinct lack of Cage in the first half of the movie.
Its in the second half of the movie that you really get what you came for. If you’ve seen any of Taylor’s previous films you will know his style, innapropriate camera angles, quick cuts, and an almost over-exposed colour palette. Its bold, brash, and crude. The first half of the movie hints at violence but you don’t really see it, the camera cutting away at the last minute. In the second half Taylor really embraces the schlock factor of this b-movie. There’s an intense scene in a hospital room, which will thrill and offend in equal measure. We also get a lot more Cage, with him and Blair becoming a really good onscreen duo. Cage dials it up to 11, and the film is all the better for it. The films last half an hour is a tense cat and mouse game between the parents and their kids. It’s fun, tense, gory, and funny. It’s in this last half hour that the film starts to really deliver on its premise.
This film isn’t great. If you’ve seen the trailer you kind of know what you’re going to get going in. It’s a shame that the movie takes so long to deliver on the promise of the trailer. It’s not for the easily offended, but if you can make it through the first 50 minutes, there is a lot of fun to be had in the last 30 minutes. Especially, a great overblown performance from Nic Cage,