File Under 2018 #21: Mom and Dad


The insane late-career of Nicolas Cage has been well publicized. Even if you couldn't name five movies he's made over the past decade, you know it is full of absolute shit [and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans]. Let me name a few: Army of One, OutcastRageDog Eat DogPay the GhostSecret WarTrespass. Not only have you probably not heard of all of those movies, you probably can't tell which is a title I completely made up.

As Cage has become more of a freak-out meme than an actor I've never been convinced he doesn't have a sense of humor about it all. There, of course, was the Saturday Night Live "Into the Cage" appearance he did while promoting Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance [not apart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some reason] back in 2011. It just seems strange to me that he makes all these anonymous film choices. Perhaps it is quicker and easier money with less pressure to actually do some hard acting work. Or maybe he really doesn't have any actual options, even though I'm sure there is some crazy director out there who would love to give him a big Hollywood return. I guess David Gordon Green kind of did that in 2013's Joe, but that was a small-scale indie that got a proportional amount of attention.

Mom and Dad certainly isn't the welcome mat, but this is a wonderful return to limited relevance. It is a post-modern Nicolas Cage movie. It has all the knowledge of everything you would expect out of a post-2010 Nicolas Cage movie and gives you exactly that with a little extra style and a very twisted premise. And it's also knowingly funny, a sharp satire of paternal love, and also a pretty good horror film -- it's hectic camerawork is usually a turn-off for me when it comes to the genre, but there is more than enough fun violence to go around.

The film is directed by Brian Taylor, one half of the Neveldine/Taylor tandem that are known for bat-shit crazy movies like Crank and Gamer. Taylor previously worked with Cage in the Ghost Rider sequel and this is a marked improvement on utilizing the star's talents. It also really goes hard on his ultra trademark style, with flashy camerawork [simply winding through a suburban house has the effect of an action chase] and effective editing that inter-cut flashbacks when information is revealed.

Mom and Dad is amazingly fun. Some might try and call it a "good bad" movie but that term should be avoided. It is simply working on a different wavelength than what we are accustomed to seeing.

What it's about: Brent and Kendall Ryan are your average suburban parents who two shitty kids and a sense of normalcy to maintain. Suddenly, an inexplicable event happens that gives parents the incessant urge to kill their children. The Ryans are no exception and their offspring, teenage bad girl Carly and her annoying younger brother Josh, must evade and fight for their lives. Intensity and ingenuity may only keep them safe for so long ... and their ancestry may be the only thing that can truly save them.

Unorganized thoughts:

  • I've focused entirely on Cage [and for good reason] but Selma Blair is also fantastic. She's not the kind of actress you'd think of who could match Cage's weird energy [is there one?] but she more than holds her own. She's more of a steely psychotic than an atom bomb and it works as a good counterpart.

  • I wouldn't have guessed it, but Cage is only 9 years older than Blair. She's aged incredibly well, especially in comparison.

  • This has one of the strangest opening credit sequences I've seen in a while. It's something like a mix of softcore porn, 70s grindhouse, and a James Bond style. I'm not sure exactly what kind of tone it sets for this, but it definitely sets a tone.

  • The music cues across the board are amazing. From Leave It to Beaver style sitcom music over a family argument to Roxette's "It Must Have Been Love" over a particularly gruesome [and over-the-top hilarious] scene.

  • There is a fake out scene where Cage tickles his son that is shot and scored as if he was attacking him -- but I'll say that Cage aggressively tickling me is personally more frightening.

  • You might have heard of a scene where Cage destroys a pool table while singing the "Hokey Pokey." I can confirm that it is indeed real.

  • The always dependable Dr. Oz makes an appearance as a news report talking head where he relays his vast knowledge of pig mothers killing their young children.

  • Is it possible that the 80 minute run-time is actually one of the film's only disappointments? The short feature runs incredibly fast, which is great, but there is honestly only about 30 minutes of the most fun insanity. I guess I'll just have to watch it again right now.