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Movie Review

Motherhood a.k.a. “Mamá en apuros,” “Motherhood—Il bello di essere mamma”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sexual references and a brief drug comment.

Reviewed by: Laura Busch

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy Drama
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 23, 2009 (limited)
DVD: February 23, 2010
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Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Uma Thurman, Minnie Driver, Anthony Edwards, Samantha Bee, Carol Commissiong, Alice Drummond, Arjun Gupta, Jenny Kirlin, Clea Lewis, Javier Picayo, Vincent James Russo, David Schallipp, Matthew Schallipp, Jake M. Smith, Jackie Stewart, Stephanie Szostak, Daisy Tahan, Jodie Foster, Cassidy Gard, David Kneeream, Justin Restivo,
Director: Katherine Dieckmann
Producer: John Wells Productions, Killer Films, iDeal Partners Film Fund, Yee Yeo Chang, Rachel Cohen, Daniel Crown, Jana Edelbaum, Peter M. Graham II, Stephen Hays, Pamela Koffler, Michael Lesser, Robin Sweet, Christine Vachon, John Wells
Distributor: Freestyle Releasing

“There are no time-outs in motherhood.”

Wake up, make breakfast, get the kids ready for school, see husband off to work, clean the house, walk the dog, buy groceries, pick the kids up from school, and the list goes on and on. A day in the life of a stay-at-home mom is never dull or without its surprises. Eliza Welsh (Uma Thurman), a loving and devoted wife and mother of two kids, who is raising her family in a small apartment in middle-class Manhattan, is no stranger to all of these tasks.

As the film opens, we get a peek into a day of this housewife’s very hectic life. On this particular day, Eliza must juggle all of her motherly duties and plan a fabulous sixth birthday party by that evening for her daughter, Clara (Daisy Tahan). Eliza’s day becomes even more complicated, when she finds out about a writing contest for an online magazine, called Lunchbox, a publication targeted at moms. Contestants must explain in 500 words what motherhood means to them, and the winner will become a regular columnist for the magazine. There is just one problem though; all of the contestants’ essays must be turned in before midnight the same day. Eliza is very excited about the prospect of this writing position, as she wishes to incorporate her passion for writing into her life as a loving mother and wife.

Positive Elements

There are themes that can be seen throughout “Motherhood,” which align themselves with Christian values. For example, Eliza and her husband (Anthony Edwards) are a happily married couple, who are working together to raise their 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. Eliza is a loving, stay-at-home mom, who is devoted to her children’s well-being and always puts their needs above her own. She wants to make Clara’s birthday special for her. She is also very sentimental about Clara turning six, and, like any good mom, thinks that her daughter is growing up too fast.

“Motherhood,” also, captures the reality of raising children and being married, but this film brings the trials and tribulations of motherhood to life in a very humorous fashion that is fun to watch. Viewers will be entertained by the misfortunes that befall the disheveled Eliza during her day. She must deal with her daughter’s name being misspelled on her birthday cake, as well as pushy and rude customers at the party store, among many other things, as she madly rushes around the city trying to get everything accomplished.

This film also brings attention to some of the hardships and insecurities that mother’s may face, and demonstrates the importance of addressing these issues. After Eliza has a breakdown, she talks to her husband, Avery, about how she often feels isolated from the adult world, because she does not go to work with other adults everyday, like he does. She also tells Avery that she sometimes gets frustrated with the endless cleaning and seemingly menial errands that she runs everyday, because she feels that they are not important. Avery reassures her that what she does is important, valuable, and very much appreciated, even if he does not always show it. Eliza also talks to him about how she is afraid that he does not find her attractive or interesting to talk to anymore. Avery assures Eliza that he does.

Eliza’s love for motherhood and commitment to her family are reflected in one of the drafts of her essay, where she explains that being a mom is about cherishing all of those precious little moments, in your children’s lives, like playing tooth fairy, and wanting to hold onto to those moments.

Avery is a loving husband, who appreciates the importance of his wife’s job as a stay-at-home mom, and understands that it is important for her to pursue her interest in writing for the family magazine, Lunchbox, during her free time. In many ways, this film reveres the important role of mother, and asks its audience to respect it.

Objectionable Content

It is important for viewers to understand that “Motherhood” contains mature content and is NOT a family film. Its target audience is adults, and the morality rating of “Average,” which I assigned to this film, was made with the assumption that this is not a children’s movie.

Many profanities litter this movie’s dialogue. There are 8-9 uses of the s-word and 1-2 uses of the f-word. There are several uses of the Lord’s name in vain and 2 uses of G** d**n. Other profanities include 2 uses of p***, 1 use of a**, and 2 uses of the word, d**k head. In one scene, an angry driver yells the c-word at Eliza, but this profanity is masked by traffic noise, but it is fairly obvious what the angry driver yelled at her. Eliza gets very angry with this man and reprimands him for using that word in front of her 2-year-old son. Finally, at least one rude word is used to refer to the male anatomy.

There is some awkward and inappropriate sexual talk in “Motherhood.” In one scene, Eliza’s friend, Sheila (Minnie Driver), a pregnant divorced woman, tells Eliza that all she wants to do is “shag,” and she also tells her that she used her son’s bath toy as a sexual toy.

In another scene, a young, attractive delivery boy delivers a letter to Eliza’s apartment, and he helps her carry her shopping bags upstairs. He is clearly attracted to Eliza and tells her she is very pretty. As he helps her decorate her apartment for the birthday party, he shows an interest in Eliza’s writing and asks her several questions about it. Later, they dance and jump around to upbeat music in her apartment. (This dancing is not overtly sexual and is really more playful in nature.) After this incident, Eliza tells her husband about the delivery boy and apologizes to him about what happened.

Eliza is also seen smoking in several scenes, when she is stressed out, but she expresses a desire to continue to work on quitting for her children.

Summary and Recommendations

“Motherhood” is a well-acted and entertaining comedy that reveres the important job of stay-at-home moms that many viewers will be able to relate to, but due to this film’s heavy profanity and inappropriate sexual dialogue, I can only cautiously recommend this comedy about the hardships and joys of motherhood to mature adult audiences.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—…I was so inspired! I mean, here are these mom and dad and their two small children, trying to make a happy family in the middle of Manhattan. Seeing the mom trying to hold everything together and get things for her daughter’s birthday party, after their family car is towed, and she is shopping in several stores on her bicycle. So many things happen to bring joy and frustration to this woman. Her husband is trying to be loving, but can’t appreciate all his wife is doing. They argue, but they are honest and don’t attack each other, so, after the party is over, they can talk again and reconcile.

The movie shows well how patience and perseverance through the trials of life pay off. While there is no mention of God, the moral principles shine throughout. What a great movie for new families just starting out, to see the consequences of love and faithfulness.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jim from MV, age 58 (USA)


Movie Critics
…Though pregnant with possibility, “Motherhood” fails to deliver. … a would-be comedic script by director Katherine Dieckmann (“Diggers”) forces the star to spout such geysers of self-pity, you’d think motherhood in the West Village was akin to, say, motherhood in Eastern Congo. …
—Rob Nelson, Variety
…The film stars Uma Thurman, doing her best with a role that may offer her less than any other in her career, even though she’s constantly onscreen. … The movie is billed as a comedy, but at no point will you require oxygen. There are some smiles and chuckles and a couple of actual laughs, but the overall effect is underwhelming. Meh. [2/4]
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
…She’s quite funny, but her performance is at once winning and overstated. … [B-]
—Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
…Uma Thurman’s comedic talents talents are poorly evidenced and ill-served by the shrill tones of Katherine Dieckmann’s new comedy “Motherhood.”…
—Patrick Z. McGavin, Screen Daily
…[Uma Thurman] deserves a medal (maybe a binky clip) for her onscreen maternal crackup, a transformation so sweaty and unflattering, it would scare off less-gutsy thespians. …
—Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle
…Director Katherine Dieckmann… is here unable to surmount the sitcom dreariness of her first original screenplay… [1/4]
—Bill Weber, Slant Magazine