Mom and Dad Review: A Hammer to the Face That Never Stops Swinging

Should you see Mom and Dad? Definitely. Does that mean it’s a good movie? Definitely not. It’s an exercise in brutality that will test your endurance for over the top mayhem. But god, is it a lot of fun. And it shows off Nicolas Cage at the height of his powers. The actor is definitely self-aware and working with a director he’s extremely comfortable with. Cage is doing his best Nicolas Cage impression, turned up to full volume with the knob broken off, even before the shit hits the fan. Yes, it’s that type of movie.

What’s really going on in Mom and Dad? The movie doesn’t bother answering that, at all. In a small town, parents want to kill their kids. And that’s the premise. Brian Taylor, of Neveldine and Taylor, writes and directs this as a solo mission. He’s one half off the team responsible for Jason Statham’s Crank series and Gerard Butler in Gamer. And he previously directed Nicolas Cage in the Marvel Comics sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. He likes to shoot scenes while on roller blades, hanging off the back of cars. You imagine the action behind him is often more over the top than what you see on screen. As if hookers and blow are littered just off the peripheral of the camera’s frame. And this tiny 82 minute masterwork is no different. If you like any of the movies I previously mentioned, then get this good shit right now, and go inject it directly into your veins.

It’s a fine jolt of WTF heading into a weekend where there’s really not much energy at the cinema. Nicolas Cage is a live wire, falling into the street and wiping kids into a white hot death. He’s the patriarch of the perfect family. At least they seem so in the picture frames hanging on the wall. But this whole brood is pretty shitty and unlikeable. And when it comes time for Mom and Dad to slaughter their kids, you’re not exactly rooting for the little tykes to win.

Selma Blair, who has been in the news a lot lately after revealing that director James Toback threatened to gouge out her eyes with a Bic pen, and kill her, trying to cover up some sexual misconduct between the two, is great in the movie. Her recent personal admissions bring a hazy layer of empathy to her character. She’s perfect in the role of Mom Kendall Ryan, who teeters on the edge of cruelty, walking a thin line between wanting to murder and nurture her two asshole children. If there’s a hero to root for in the movie, it’s definitely her.

Playing her husband, Nicolas Cage is a monster from the word go, and her children are cringing inducing. I’d like to believe that’s done on purpose. Anne Winters plays Carly Ryan, a festering millennial bucket of snot obsessed with social media and saying incredibly hurtful things to her mother. She steals hundreds of dollars from her poor mom, all so that she and her friend can buy drugs in the bathroom at school. And Carly’s involved in an interracial relationship that her father definitely does not approve of. Then there’s little Josh Ryan, played by Zackary Arthur. He looks like he should be in middle school, while Dad is at work, sis is in class being a total asshole, and mom is Zumbaing and drinking disgusting green tea that she doesn’t even like. But no, this little jerk is running around his house, in his pajamas like an over-grown toddler, playing with his toys. Is there something wrong with him? That is never explained.

We meet them all at the breakfast table, and they are all equally shitty to each other. They set out on their respective day’s journey, and before long parents are killing kids, which begins with the Ryans’ housekeeper. For some reason, this Chinese woman brings her young daughter to work, helping to cook in the Ryans’ kitchen. The girl definitely should be in school along with Josh. Instead, she winds up dead on the kitchen floor, with a meat tenderizer to the head. Soon, chaos erupts across town, parents have gathered at the high school. And there’s a couple of really great shock moments as these moms and dads just tackle, maul and rip apart their kids. Are we ever given a reason for why this is happening? Nope. Is it happening in other parts of the country? The world? Who knows. Doesn’t really matter. After a few tight beats and a lot of dead kids, we get Josh, Carly, Kendall and Cage’s Brent all back at the house, where Mom and Dad unrelentingly try to end their offsprings’ lives.

We get some great flashbacks, which show Nicolas Cage is a big fat dick, even when he’s not trying to kill his kids. He seems to tolerate his children, but before he’s struck by this kid-killer virus, he always looks like he might strike out and murder them anyway. We get to see Brent and Kendall as teenagers. Brent does burnies in a parking lot with Kendall sitting on his lap, her t*tties glorious hitting him in the face as they swill beer. His one shining moment in life. Now, he’s building a pool table in his depressing man cave and he can’t even do that without some peace and quiet. Kendal follows him to the basement, then hounds him for spending the money. But she’s not played as the shrew or harpy. She is equally disappointed in life, and is just going through the motions of what she should say, as she slumps on the stairs, watching as Cage gloriously destroys the pool table while singing the hokey pokey. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie.

There is a subplot early on that finds Kendall anxiously awaiting the news of her newborn Niece. A baby is coming, and she wants to be there for her sister. Before she goes back to her house to help her husband kill their son and daughter, she makes a pitstop at the hospital. When her kids aren’t nearby, she functions as a mostly normal human. And so yeah, a mom giving birth. You might know where this is headed. And the scenes of the newborn being attacked by its birthing mom are some of the most cringe worthy in cinema. It needs to be seen to be believed.

I won’t disclose here what happens to the baby, just know that scene is in the movie. Kendall and Brent make their way back to the house, and after some cool chase sequences, the two children eventually escape to the basement, where they are shocked to find the remnants of Dad’s obliterated pool table. They lock themselves in. No problem. Mom and Dad will weasel them out by pumping in gas from a hose.

In the midst of all this, Brent’s mom and dad show up. While Grandma and Grandpa (the later of which is played by genre icon Lance Henriksen) have no interest in killing their grandkids they definitely want to murder Brent, and his wife. And this gives us one of the best scenes in the movie, when Cage uses his beloved Firebird to do some major damage to these octogenarians. And perhaps the best shot out of the whole movie has Grannie rolling over the sunroof of the car. It’s nothing short of A-MAZING!

And god, we haven’t even talked about Carly’s boyfriend yet. He’s a good kid. Sympathetic. He has an abusive, alcoholic dad, and doesn’t even realize something is wrong when the old man tries to kill him. He’s not supposed to see Carly but races to her in this time of need. And like a cartoon character, he meets one wicked death after the next, only to keep getting up like Jason Voorhees to save his girlfriend. The things that happen to this poor kid. Head bludgeons on the killing floor of the kitchen, dropped from the upstairs balcony on his face, he even gets a wicked coat hanger through his cheek. F’ing ouch.

If there is one classic must-see Nicolas Cage moment in Mom and Dad (a movie that is filled to the brim with them), it’s the actor’s creepy pee-pee dance done standing outside a door with his wife, as he anxiously awaits the opportunity to kill his two kids. It’s nothing short of brilliant, and bonkers, hilarious, and unexpected. And the direction offered to him must have been, ‘Pretend you’re a kid who really needs to go to the bathroom.’ It comes out of left field and deserves a special shout out. As does the opening credit sequence which looks like it was ripped from some old romantic comedy trash from the 70s. It’s glorious.

But that ending? Not only do we never get an explanation for what is going on or why all the parents want to kill their kids, we don’t get an ending either, and Momentum Pictures must have a sequel on the way. Mom and Dad seriously just ends on an abrupt note with absolutely no resolve to anything except that Grannie might be dead, and even that I kind of doubt. It ends just like Crank and Crank 2, barreling headfirst into the next movie. The movie ends as abruptly as if I were to just.

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