[Header Image: Nicolas Cage as Brent Ryan | Momentum Pictures]
“It’s a Sawzall. That means it saws ALL!”
Oh, boy, was this a wild ride. I really should have guessed knowing that Brian Taylor was behind the directing and writing. Let’s just say this, Mom and Dad is pretty bizarre and incredibly fun. It takes a very simple concept — parents across a suburban community find themselves with the uncontrollable desire to kill their children — and just goes to town with it. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to go into this with zero expectations and ready to have an entertaining time. It’s not the type of movie that should be deeply analysed or overthought. Sitting at just under an hour and a half, it hits the ground running and wastes no time in dragging you on this journey that is both hilarious and oddly intriguing. If you’ve seen any of Taylor’s previous work (like Crank or Happy!) you’ll have some rough idea of what you’re possibly going to get yourself into.
Now on top of some fun writing and great direction, there’s a wonderful cast and it’s quite small at that. As you can imagine, Nicolas Cage is wonderful in the role of Brent Ryan (the titular ‘Dad’) just like he is in every other bizarre movie he’s starred in and there is one particular moment involving a pool table that continues to live in my mind since the day I watched this movie. Alongside him, Selma Blair is equally as captivating as Brent’s wife Kendall (the titular ‘Mom’). As the movie goes on, they do share a lot of scenes together but Kendall also has her own journey dealing with being a mother and a situation involving her sister. Her descent into gaining that uncontrollable urge to kill her children feels a lot more dramatic and more like a loss than Brent’s which helps to create some sort of difference as opposed to seeing the exact same thing happen twice.
The other most notable mentions are Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur who play Brent and Kendall’s kids (Carly and Josh respectively) and Robert T. Cunningham who plays Damon, Carly’s boyfriend. All three of them are really great in this and so enjoyable to watch. They get the most screen time (along with Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair) and they, of course, are approaching the storyline from the side of being targets and needing to survive as opposed getting that irresistible urge. Everyone in the cast does a great job at demanding attention even if they’re only on the screen for a short period of time but the people I’ve specifically mentioned really did a fantastic job.
There are so many standout moments throughout Mom and Dad and as I said, it really is just meant to be enjoyed. The one drawback I found is that the ending is a little abrupt. It’s not bad and it doesn’t take away from how genuinely good this movie is but another half an hour (or even a full hour) would have done wonders. At the very least, I just didn’t want it to end, I was having too much of a great time with this one but it perhaps could have been rounded off just a little better. Again, it doesn’t take away from the movie and it’s still worth the watch regardless.
Mom and Dad seems to know just how over the top and strange it is and it makes the most of it. It does what it says on the tin and if you just sit back and let it play out, you’ll have a wild time. It is laugh-out-loud funny in a lot of places and there’s the right amount of horror sprinkled in that’s just as dramatic. Everything about it is turned up high — the writing, the direction, the acing, the music, the horror, the comedy, everything — and it works so well, never once feeling like it’s too much or gone a step too far.
Rating: ★★★★ /5