Mother's Boys (1994) **
D: Yves Simoneau
C: Jamie Lee Curtis, Peter Gallagher, Joanne Whalley, Vanessa Redgrave, Luke Edwards, Colin Ward, Joey Zimmerman, Joss Ackland, J.E. Freeman, Paul Guilfoyle, John C. McGinley
Plot Synopsis: A mother deserts her family and suddenly returns years later, hell-bent for revenge. Mayhem ensues.
Review: The premise, involving a mother who abandoned not only her husband, but her children and then returning three years later to reclaim them and the psychological warfare that ensures, could've made for a thoughtful movie. However, the second we see Jamie Lee Curtis with bleach blond hair, donned in a stylish outfit that accentuates her tightly toned body, we know that this isn't a movie going for nuance.
The jest of the story involves Curtis manipulating everyone around her whether that's trying to make her husband's new girlfriend look despicable, whether that's getting her mom to believe that she's a fit parent, whether that's trying to win back her husband's love or whether that's getting her own kids to do her bidding. This is mainly a showcase to watch Curtis scheme, blackmail and push everyone's buttons.
Curtis is game in a go for broke performance. The cinematography & camera work are both striking and bring a sense of grandeur to a relatively small film. The score effectively highlights the suspense & tension. There's a few brazen moments of violence and sexuality, especially one involving Curtis standing before her teenage son buck naked. Mother's Boys had everything it needed to be a memorably trashy movie, yet it doesn't quite pan out.
A prime example is the finale. They stage this dementedly, twisted set piece. The pieces start to come together, tensions raise and just when things should be getting really good, it all comes to an abrupt end. That sums up Mother's Boys in general. They have all the pieces in front of them, but none of those pieces are fully realized.
Curtis gets naked, not once, but twice. However, it's never quite as gratuitous as it could've been. There's an outlandish scene involving a character being cut across the face, with glass shreds, but it's never quite as bloody as it could've been. There's a scene involving asphyxiation, but they don't have the guts to off the character being asphyxiated.
This is a movie that plays up to being trashy, in your face entertainment, but when it comes time to deliver the goods, they shy away. With these types of movies, with their over the top theatrics, more is always more! It's the last place where you want to show restraint. [R] 96 minutes.
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