Even when reaching the breaking point, a parent would never want to kill their children… at least, they wouldn’t like to admit it!
This premise doesn’t work in the universe of the recently released Mom and Dad (not to be confused with the 2008 English disturbing flick of the same name), where parents catch a sort of virus that makes them try to harm their kids.
Selma Blair and Nicolas Cage happen to have two children (Carly and Josh) and, as you can imagine, they will go through everything to murder them.
The first thing that writer and director Brian Taylor accomplishes with this simple (and silly) premise is that he makes the film self-aware and very light-hearted, although violence and intensity are an important part of the execution.
On one hand, this levity makes the movie enjoyable and helps the audience to suspend their disbelief about the whole story and the most unrealistic scenes; on the other, I’m pretty sure the filmmakers put a lot of thought in the technical execution of the script so that the technical features would match the overall tone.
For example, the editing is frenetic and schizophrenic – a la Cornetto Trilogy; the camera-work is quirky and unconventional, enriched with dutch angles and hand-held camera movements. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of this filmmaking style (it makes me a bit nauseous, whilst I prefer long and calm sequences, especially characterised by long, uneasy takes in horror movies) but it surely fits Mom and Dad and works in harmony with the other aspects of the movie.
One of them being the acting. Purposely overacted, Mom and Dad is filled with over-the-top performances: even though that might be distracting during the first act – where there’s no need for the characters to overact – it works for the remaining of the film (which runs for only 80 minutes). In this regard, it comes with no surprise that crazy Nicolas Cage steals the show: he’s simply a delight to look at in a movie that, finally, allows him to be as insane as he wants without looking embarrassing. However, Selma Blair’s performance is not to be overlooked, since she does a great job at balancing madness and kindness in the space of a few scenes.
Yet, Mom and Dad works as a black comedy that might make you chuckle, albeit I didn’t find it ‘laugh out loud’ material: in this respect, the gore is toned down quite a bit. Although that would usually piss me off, in the movie this specific filmmaking choice is very fitting because, otherwise, most of the comedic aspects would have vanished in a bath of blood and guts.
Speaking of actual complaints, the frenetic editing can also be annoying here: on one side, it enhances the interest of dialogues and those scenes in which not much happens; on the other, however, it becomes annoying when it’s massively utilised in the action sequences. After all, who would like to end up in a shaky-cam fest as opposed to having the opportunity to enjoy scenes in their entirety?
Also, there are a few, long intercuts that serve no purpose other than elongate the runtime of Mom and Dad. Despite the fast pace, these inserts just make the flick drag and, at parts, a bit boring.
Ultimately, I’m not a big fan of the ending and I can see many viewers being very disappointed by it. I can’t elaborate any further because I would get into spoiler territory, but if you’ve seen the movie (or if you will watch it) you’d get what I’m talking about.
Mom and Dad 7/10
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My review is also available on IMDb – Mum and Dad