Screen Media Films // R // $27.98 // September 19, 2006
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted October 11, 2006
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In 10 Words or Less
M is for the way she makes me cringe

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: Oddball films, The Patrick Dempsey version
Likes: Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt
Dislikes: Most actor-turned-directors
Hates: Creepy moms

The Movie
Everyone knows someone with an overprotective mom. Much fewer know someone with a psychopathic mom. The kind for whom an oedipal complex is a cute phase. Emily (Kyra Sedgwick) is just such a mom. She's not crazy in a Texas Cheerleader's mom kind of way. She's crazy in a Jason Vorhees' mom kind of way. The kind of mom for whom a parent/teacher meeting is akin to the Spanish Inquisition. For Emily, the son rises and sets on her precious little boy, whom she refers to as "Loverboy," in a way that's not at all upsetting to the majority of society.

This situation give the film the makings of a solid genre film, but it develops into more of a character study, as Emily's mental state is explored through flashbacks, as she becomes increasingly obsessed with protecting her boy. As you meet her dippy parents (played with '60s gusto by Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei) and see how she was molded as a girl, you begin to understand why she's cracked, though not why she's cracked in the way she is. These segments could have made up a solid coming-of-age film with a bizarre sense of reality, but are resigned to being the most enjoyable part of the larger film.

Behind the camera, Kevin Bacon does a nice job of keeping everything moving, while getting solid performances out of Sedgwick and young Dominic Scott Kay. Some of the visual style looks a bit borrowed, but it works, as Bacon makes his wife the end-all, be-all of the film's world with every camera angle. This film is Emily's reality, and we just experience it, whether she's manic, sexy or a bit of both.

One of the advantages that being an A-list actor trying your hand at directing a feature film is the ability to call on friends to star in your movie. Bacon took advantage of this, filling the cast with big-name talent, though it doesn't all work out in the film's favor. Tomei plays off Bacon well, walking the line between goofy and real, while Sandra Bullock doesn't get much to do besides look pretty. At least she gets off better than Oliver Platt, who's wasted as an ineffective office worker. Matt Dillon isn't bad as a nice guy who enters Emily and Loverboy's lives, but like Bullock, he's not asked to do much.

Though the film advances in a straight-forward way, there's not much in the way of a traditional plot. Instead, we just follow along as Emily spirals downward. The resolution of the film won't leave you feeling satisfied, but there's not likely any way to put a nice clean bow on this story. It's just too sloppy, too human a story about parents and the love parents give and the love parents take. It's not a good time by any stretch of the imagination, but it is an interesting one.

The DVD, a one-disc release, is packaged in a standard keepcase, with an insert that lists chapter stops. The disc features a nice looking animated anamorphic widescreen main menu, with option to watch the film, select scenes and adjust languages. Audio options include English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks, while subtitles are available in English.

The Quality
Nothing wrong with the video on this DVD, as the anamorphic widescreen transfer has excellent color and a solid level of detail for a low-budget film. There's no dirt or damage, nor any other problems.

The audio, delivered as a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, is a rather impressive presentation, with excellent use of the surrounds to deliver a strong musical soundtrack. The dialogue is clear and crisp as well, though it's central-channel focused, and there's not a lot of dynamic movement in the audio, but otherwise it's good.

The Extras
The only extra included is a feature-length audio commentary from Bacon. He's not the most enthusiastic commentator, but as he was intimately involved with the production, he's got plenty of info to share. It would have been nice to have his wife in the room as well, but it's a decent commentary, as is.

The Bottom Line
The bond between a parent and a child is fertile ground for films to draw inspiration from, and Loverboy is another example of how that relationship can be twisted into an interesting and disturbing story. While it's not a complete film, there's a good deal of interesting material and a quality cast to perform it. The DVD does a good job of presenting the film, and throws in a star-powered extra to boot. If you're a fan of Sedgwick, or even Bacon for that matter, or in films that explore the fringes of human behavior and emotion, then give this one a rental.

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