‘Mom and Dad’ Review: Nicolas Cage Just Wants to Murder His Children

Anyone who appreciated the batshit insanity that Brian Taylor (alongside his former filmmaking partner Mark Neveldine) brought to the Crank series should be excited about his latest movie based purely on the premise and headlining cast member. It’s about a world where parents suddenly and inexplicably start murderin’ they children. It stars Nicolas Cage as the primary poppa with bloodlust. That means Mom and Dad has the potential for both the filmmaker and star to do what they do best: deliriously fly over-the-top with a bad taste premise for the sake of sick laughs and B-movie bliss. Certainly the film does exactly that. It may never elevate above a B-movie, but it weaves its B-movie charms with such loving ludicrousness that it’s hard to complain.

The film opens with a lovably dysfunctional suburban family. The teen daughter (Anne Winters) is just fed up because like Will Smith once said, “parents just don’t understand.” The young son (Zackery Arthur) is an energetic terror who leaves his toys everywhere. Mama (Selma Blair) is a loving leader who is having a hard time with her daughter growing older and wishing she hadn’t given up her career. Daddy (Nicky Rage Cage) is entering mid-life crisis mode and wondering where the hell his youthful ambition and energy went. You know the routine. Parents resent their kids, kids resent their parents. The cycle continues. After following them all through their exhausted daily routine for a while, unexpected static television transmissions start making parents attack their children across America. It’s unclear why, though many theories are presented through the media. It doesn’t matter. It’s all both a metaphor for intergenerational resentment and just a good ol’ fashioned excuse for horror movie insanity. Obviously it all builds towards our loving family battling it out in the family home. That makes up pretty much the second half of the movie and it’s pretty great.

While Brian Taylor certainly directs the movie with his patented brand of hyper-active camera moves, eye-stabbingly vibrant colors, and ADD editing, Mom and Dad feels slightly smaller that his previous movies and even takes it’s time to get going. It’s been written like an old timey late 70s/early 80s horror movie that takes time to establish empathy for characters and rules for a world before making all the walls crash down and then trapping all the central heroes and villains in a single location for the climax. So weirdly enough for a film so desperately determined to entertain at all costs, Mom and Dad takes a little time to get going—but when it happens this family values twist on The Purge never lets up.

Despite how deliciously bad taste the film is, featuring everything from sports car speed outs with bouncing boobs in the driver’s face to a mother attempting to murder her infant seconds after giving birth, Taylor and the cast always keep things surprisingly playful. The premise might be button-pushing, but the movie is poppy entertainment for all the good naughty boys n’ girls out there. Despite the streams of onscreen violence (against children no less) gore is surprisingly restrained (relatively speaking). The movie is meant to provoke, but not offend. Everyone is having a good time and their joy is infectious. Even Selma Blair who is predominantly asked to provide the dramatic weight and emotional stakes for the cartoony picture, seems to be having a good time. She commits with impressive conviction and has no problem winking and reveling in evil when that opportunity arises.

Image via TIFF

Of course, most folks will likely show up to Mom and Dad for the Nicolas Cage show. It makes sense. This thing seems custom designed from his meme-inspiring brand of over-acting. Sadly, Cage isn’t in the movie as much as you’d hope, but when he’s there he’s in full Cage mode, chewing up scenery and transforming every moment into his particular brand of comedy. You’ll get to see him sledgehammer a pool table while singing “The Hokey Pokey” and sexually assault a beer can with his tongue among, other Cagey delights. The guy is obviously having a ball for the first time in ages and in Brian Taylor has clearly found a filmmaker who tells stories on the same “no such thing as too much” wavelength. Their Ghost Rider might have been a disappointment, but if nothing else Mom and Dad proves that the pair could be a Martin Scorsese/Robert De Niro caliber combo for bad taste ironic entertainments.

This one might only be a satisfying B-movie romp, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with that and those sorts of things are rarely this good. The Crank movies proved that Taylor knows how to tailor an insane movie to the talents of an insane performer and hopefully some day the director and Cage will be able to create something unforgettably insane that’s suited to both of their gifts of excess. Mom and Dad is a worthy bit of naughty fun for now and well worth a not-so-guilty-pleasure-giggle. Hopefully they’ll give us something even more fubar in the future.

Grade: B-

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