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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Mom
Mom
MGM // R // June 30, 2015
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted July 29, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
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The Movie:

Written and directed by Patrick Rand in 1991, Mom starts off with an interesting scene wherein a young pregnant woman sits down to rest on her suitcase. She asks a strange man clad in black with mirrored shades for a light, but he doesn't respond. Maybe because he doesn't think pregnant women should smoke? Nope, that's not it. He's biding his time. When the moment is right, he takes her out into the nearby desert and eats her.

That man is Nestor Duvalier (Brion James) and, by impersonating a blind man, he has just rented a room from a kindly old woman named Emily Dwyer (Jeanne Bates), though not without raising the suspicion of her TV news reporter son, Clay (Mark Thomas Miller). When Nestor ‘turns' Emily and she turns into a flesh-eating monster herself, things obviously get… weird. Clay calls to check in on her but when he gets no answer he pays her a visit. This turns into a bit of a stealth mission where he trails Nestor and Emily and sees them kill and eat a homeless man in a back alley.

As Clay starts to realize what's happened to his mother, he has to figure out what to do with her, all while keeping his wife Alice (Mary McDonaugh), who is great with child, safe and out of harm's way. This gets even more complicated when the cops, led by Lieutenant Hendrix (Art Evens), start to wonder who is behind all of these killings…

The most interesting part of this movie is when Clay, drunk off of his ass, picks up a ditzy hooker named Beverly Hills (Stella Stevens) in a dive bar, takes her back to mom's place and essentially wrestles with the morality of feeding her to his mom or not. Beverly, also pretty drunk, is oblivious to what's actually going on but Clay really is trying to do the right thing and at the same time, take care of the woman who raised him. Moments like this are, sadly, fleeting in the film and that really brings it down. For this to work, we need to feel the connection between Clay and Emily and while on paper maybe it was there, in the film itself it's not. Jeanne Bates creates a nice enough old lady but she's just that, a nice old lady, there's no distinctive personality here while Mark Thomas Miller as Clay has trouble emoting. He's fine at playing frustrated but you never get the impression that there's any sort of parental bond here.

The movie also has trouble finding its place in terms of tone. It starts off as sort of a weird, gory comedy. Brion James' character is actually a lot of fun to watch here and he's great in the part but once he's out of the picture, the movie takes a step down as it tries to become more serious. Is it a horror movie? Well, it's never scary despite some admittedly cool, albeit brief, monster effects and gore. Is it a comedy? If so, it's only occasionally funny. Is it a drama? The ending certainly plays it off that way but the eight minutes that come before the last fifteen don't do a very good job of selling us on the seriousness of the matter. And that's a shame, because there are interesting ideas at work here. Clay should have had more soul searching to do here, he should have maybe spilled his guts to his wife to let us know what was bothering him and in turn to let her know. This would have given us some insight into the marriage he winds up having to try and save and into his relationship with his mother but this never happens.

What we wind up with, for reasons stated, as a few scenes that were probably meant to have legitimate impact but wind up falling flat. Which is basically the problem with the whole movie: it falls flat. It's nicely shot, it's well assembled if occasionally poorly paced, and it has good ideas but the cliché characters and performances, coupled with the problematic script, keep this one from even coming close to hitting its potential.

The DVD:

Video:

Mom arrives on DVD framed at 1.78.1 widescreen. Despite some noticeable print damage that pops up throughout the film sporadically, the transfer is decent enough. Some of the L.A./skid row locations look suitably gritty but a large portion of the movie takes place inside Emily's house, which is fairly bright and colorful. There are no obvious compression artifacts to note and black levels are good. Detail is fine for a standard definition presentation while colors and skin tones all look to be in check. The transfer here is just fine.

Sound:

The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track on this disc is pretty solid. No alternate language options or subtitles of any kind are provided. There's decent channel separation here, particularly during the more active scenes (basically just the kill scenes) where there is a bit more left/right action noticeable in the mix. The levels are properly balanced here and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion.

Extras:

There are no extras on the disc, just a static menu that offers chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Mom isn't successful as neither a horror film, a comedy or a drama despite mixing in elements from all three genres. We never feel the connection between mother and son that we need to really make this work and as such, the movie drags despite a few amusing moments. The MOD/DVD-R release from MGM's Limited Edition Collection looks and sounds decent enough, but the movie is a bit of a snooze. Skip it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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