See It Instead: Mom’s Night Out

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See It Instead:  Mom’s Night Out

Sometimes a movie comes along and makes you aware of an itch you never knew you had.  Perhaps a review piqued your interest, or you’d rather stay in and pay yourself $10 for a small popcorn and watch a movie on the cheap.  Perhaps you’re valiantly struggling through your queue on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and need a wise, cultured voice to direct you to where the real movie viewing gold is hiding amidst the terrible  faith-based movies .  Well, look no further.  See It Instead is here to take today’s new releases and guide you to what you should really be watching.

I see dead careers...but they don't know that they're dead...
I see dead careers…but they don’t know that they’re dead…

Mom’s Night Out (2014)

This.  This would be appropriate.
This. This would be appropriate.

“A riot is an awful and ugly thing…and it’s about high time we had one!”  Mom’s Night Out manages to be both boring and condescending, not to mention more than a tad bit misleading in its promotional material.  What has been cut and mashed together in the trailer to look like The Hangover for the housewife set is actually a ragingly paternalistic and insulting dose of “mansplaining,”  where men dutifully remind their poor addled womenfolk that staying in the home like a drudge is actually the greatest fun in the whole wide world!  And Jesus approved!  I hope nobody sees this twaddle, but I also secretly hope that enough intelligent human beings are suckered into seeing it that a riot breaks out.  Can you have a class action lawsuit based on dishonest marketing of a terrible movie?  Here’s to hoping!  Now how about honoring your mother the correct way by watching these three movies about mom instead.

The Serious Pick:  The Forgotten (2004)

Ahh, motherhood...
Ahh, motherhood…

Julianne Moore has played some magnificent mothers in her career, though strangely many of her maternal roles involve how incredibly difficult it is to conceive.  In The Big Lebowski, she fools the Dude into helping her conceive; in The Kids are All Right, she is receives artificial insemination (mostly because she is in a long term, committed homosexual relationship and the lack of male sex organs is a mild inconvenience); in Children of Men, women just plain can’t have children anymore.  The Forgotten takes this trend and gives it a shocking twist:  her child appears to never have existed at all.

Julianne’s character believes her son has died in a tragic accident, but everyone around her, including her husband, believes she never had a son to begin with.  Psychological twists and turns fill the movie, and you spend at least a little time believing any explanation the movies hands you.  Playing a mother at wits end (who may just actually be insane) is a tough job, but Julianne Moore is fantastic in the role.  The ending is a bit of head scratcher, but with so many red herrings and twists, you can forgive the screenplay a little…you knew all along that whatever explanation turned out to be true, it was going to have to somehow unravel all of the other wonderful possibilities.

She also must contend with not having the top of her skull, apparently.
She also must contend with not having the top of her skull, apparently.

The Lighthearted Pick:  Goonies (1985)

He is quite a looker, though.
He is quite a looker, though.

You may be wondering about why this movie makes the list.  Sure, Mikey’s mom does show up at the end to console the teens after they lose a fortune in pirate plunder.  Sure, she REALLY likes that naked statue of David…even if the part is glued on wrong.  But she really doesn’t have that big a role in the coming-of-age, death trap avoiding story.   You are correct…and I’m not talking about the children’s mother when I say this movie has one of the best mothers in cinema.  I’m talking about Ma Fratelli, you heathen.

 

Now, you're going to eat all of your vegetables this time, right!?
Now, you’re going to eat all of your vegetables this time, right!?

Anne Ramsey’s portrayal of the villainous sour-puss matron of the comically inept Fratelli crime family takes the cake as one of my favorite movie mothers.  She’s cantankerous, murderous, and an all around poor mother…but she’s just so much fun to watch as she constantly upbraids her lunky sons as they pursue One-Eyed Willie’s treasure.  With all the silliness of the story, her brass tacks evil is a refreshing note, and time and again she demonstrates that the nastiest trap down in those catacombs may be one pissed off mother.

The Unconventional Pick:  Aliens (1986)

Pictured:  complicated.
Pictured: complicated.

Apparently the late 80’s where a good time for kick ass mothers, and Aliens has two of them.  Sigourney Weaver gets to play the good gal mother in this sci-fi action follow-up to the more cerebral horror film, Alien.  Her protective guarding of poor young Newt, an abandoned child of the xenomorph-murdered colonists, gives redemption to the maternal instinct in a film series where childbirth can get…complicated.  Her full-on mama bear beat down of the evil alien queen at the films climax may be the closest Hollywood ever comes to actual female empowerment.  That is sad…but also a great deal of kick-ass fun to watch.

That being said, I mentioned two mothers, so let’s flip the coin and talk about the other bad-ass momma in this movie:  the Alien Queen.  Two stories tall and sporting an ova-depositor the size of a compact car, the Alien Queen seems to be completely immobile and pathetic, barely able to manage a sneer at Ripley due to the strain of her non-stop egg laying.  And then Ripley goes and takes a flamethrower to her brood.  That gets her attention in a big way, and she tears her way free FROM HER OWN UTERUS just to get some much deserved revenge.  I mean, Ripley and humanity is mucking around on her planet, killing her children.  A mother’s gotta do what a mother’s got to do.

Now this is how you sell a title fight...
Now this is how you sell a title fight…

 

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