Reviewed by: Dale Mason
“Mother” is a comedy with a fresh storyline. From its warm and tender title, one might assume that this film would be a wholesome diversion from the many celluloid losers out today. Unfortunately, it is an excellent example of the world as envisioned by most psychologists—a world where “me” is always first and God and morality don’t exist. “Mother” is a well-acted, well-crafted screenplay filled with good intentions, but overflowing with disrespect and selfishness.
John Henderson (Albert Brooks) is a fortysomething man of many failed relationships, including two divorces. He just can’t please or “keep” a woman. He longs for a relationship that works (a laudable desire), and so devises a “bold experiment” in self-help—to move back in with his mother so that he might discover why THEIR relationship doesn’t work. (His theory is that his problems are all mom’s fault, and if he can figure out why, his problems will be solved.)
A man without respect for women, John re-enters his mother’s life (and that of his successful but dysfunctional married brother as well) with all the finesse of a charging bull in a thin-isled china shop. Mrs. Henderson is told (not asked) that he is moving in with her. He is comical yet disrespectful, and he doesn’t grow or learn from his own faults.
Instead, John rolls roughshod over the hospitality of the woman who sacrificed and delayed her own aspirations and goals for those of her children. He is emotionally abusive and not concerned with his mothers feelings (i.e., near the end he joyously calls out “You're a failure!”). Instead this acclaimed film uses a calculated tact to reinforce the “career woman” approach to child-rearing.
“Mother” may win an Oscar—perhaps Best Actress to the deserving Debbie Reynolds. Though Debbie may have earned this distinction, the movie has not.
“Mother” encourages disrespect rather than honor and appreciation toward one’s parents. Though it explores family relationships, it fails in its opportunity to encourage viewers to strive to truly know and understand their parents and siblings better. While there is no nudity or violence, this misdirected comedy includes very direct sexual talk between the mother (Reynolds) and her over-sexed boyfriend. Plus, there’s plenty of coarse speech, lewd remarks, and 30+ profanities, expletives, curse words, etc.
Funny? Well… yes, you’ll chuckle from time to time. Worth watching? What do you think?
Year of Release—1996
Other/better movies that explore family relationships: