We Watched it So You Don’t Have To: Mom and Dad

It’s just an idea, nothing more, nothing less. And there’s Nicolas Cage in it…

For films to garner a cult following, it has to be by accident. That’s the whole point. If you take Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, or even Showgirls – terrible films that aren’t supposed to be terrible are the films we affectionately respond to most, which is why they still sell out packed special screenings across the world. But for Brian Taylor’s Mom and Dad, it’s vying too knowingly for cult status, through supposedly sharp one-liners, to Nic Cage smashing a pool table to pieces, it’s too contrived in its bid to be considered on cult status terms, in in turn, is anything but.

Taylor, who wrote the piece too, has presented a violent, twisted satire that takes our biggest form of safety n this world; our parents – and turns them into our greatest, most vicious adversary. The premise is simple, there’s a mass hysteria of unknown origins that has caused all parents across the world to turn on their own offspring, and try desperately to terminate them. Sounds kinda fun – and that’s because it is. At times. But it’s just an idea, nothing more, nothing less. Naturally when parents decide they want to shoot and kill their very own children, it leaves the viewer with many questions as to why this could have occurred, and yet any such queries are left unanswered, for it appears that Taylor doesn’t actually know himself.

There is no sense of finality here, it’s a potentially funny idea, but doesn’t have an intellectual means of closure, a way to tie up loose ends, to explain exactly what it is we’ve just witnessed. He thought up a good narrative for a movie, but forgot that he might have to actually end the thing at some point. Nicolas Cage is the ideal casting for this role, of that there is no doubt – he plays unhinged with a distinct sense of conviction and volatility, the ability to appear vacant behind the eyes, as if nothing he will do could affect him. And there’s not really anything quite as scary as immunity in a fellow man.

Yet saying that it’s somewhat obvious, we’ve seen him play roles of this nature before, and it detracts from the film’s sense of unique identity, when it just feels like one of the many b-movies where Nic Cage goes mental. On the plus side, he is actually quite good in the film, and his wife, played by Selma Blair, matches her co-star at every turn, with a distinctly nuanced turn, which is particularly impressive given the nature of the film she’s starring in, providing humanity in a movie otherwise entirely bereft of it. But let’s face it, Mom and Dad isn’t a movie you go and see for great performances, it’s the story that is fascinating, and regrettably, it’s the story that is the most frustrating aspect of them all.

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