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Mom & Dad

(Brian Taylor)




There is a weird sense of frenzied fun to this film. I wouldn't expect anything less from Brian Taylor, one of two people responsible for Crank, Gamer and the Ghost Rider sequel. With Mom & Dad, Taylor mixes the insane with the grotesque and throws in some dark black comedy elements that creates a unique film experience, for better and worse.

Brent is an overworked and underpaid father who lusts after his younger days when he didn't care about things. His wife Kendall, desperately tries to connect with her teenage daughter Carly, but what teenage daughter wants to be best friends with their mother? A normal day, just like any other turns into a fight for survival as an unknown epidemic sweeps the nation. Parents start killing their children. Now Carly must race home to protect her little brother before mom and dad make it there.

There are two kinds of "Crazy-Cage" in films. His over the top performances can rub some people the wrong way. His take on Ghost Rider in the second film is bizarre and The Wicker Man lives on in infamy for the unintentional hilarity that it is. Then you have films where he channels the right amount of absurdity in key situations. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is a fun trip down a drug fueled nightmare and Kick-Ass has a lot of fun with his Adam West impression. Mom & Dad walks a fine line between both, but going into this film knowing the premise, you've got to hand it to Cage with how far he takes his insanity. A sequence where he smashes a newly built pool table with a sledgehammer while singing the "Hokey-Pokey" is comically strange, especially when you realize that this takes place BEFORE the insanity happens. Cage really turns in a comically delightful performance and Selma Blair does a good job balancing the other half of this marriage as his wife. Her eyes do a lot of acting here, with one look of sheer determination to kill her two kids. She is stuck in this mom role and had to sacrifice her career, now it's her turn for revenge.

The premise alone will turn some people off and to be honest, there were a few times when I felt rather uneasy. It's hard to take delight in seeing a mother strangle her daughter to death with a tie. One sequence in particular had me wide eyed with fear as to what Taylor was going to do when a mother gives birth to her first born, then immediately wants to kill it. Again, this is a really dark black comedy.

Not much of a story here, it seems that Taylor came up with a premise and just 'went with it'. Carly has a boyfriend whose only role seems to be saviour. He gets knocked out a bunch of times only to come back at the last second to save so and so. There is a nice turn of events when guests arrive at the house during the carnage, but this was to be expected after seeing the actor in the opening 70 styled Bond-esque credit sequence. For a film that has a wild premise, I was surprised to see the lack of gore on the screen. I thought Taylor would have gone wild here, but maybe seeing adults murder the hell out of kids was too much for the MPAA and Taylor leaves a lot of it to our imagination.

While the film has some fun moments, a lot of it is a chaotic mess. Poor editing choices that distract from the excitement, odd pacing to try and cram in character relationships and a lazy and uninspired ending leaves a lot to be desired. Mom & Dad is a frustrating film. It could have really been better if Taylor had maybe built a bit more tension in the beginning and had a clear direction to go in the end. I'm all for ambiguity, but Mom & Dad takes that to another level. In the end nothing is answered, resolved and explored. It literally ends mid-sentence. I can see an entire theatre throwing their hands up in the air with disappointment and confusion, which leads to anger and hatred, then suffering. We all know what happens after that.