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  Mom and Dad Pushy Parents
Year: 2017
Director: Brian Taylor
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Robert T. Cunningham, Olivia Crocicchia, Lance Henriksen, Marilyn Dodds Frank, Samantha Lemole, Joseph D. Reitman, Rachel Melvin, Bobby Richards, Sharon Gee, Edwin Lee Gibson, Brionne Davis
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Just another day in this Kentucky town, and for the Ryan family it could not start more typically. Dad Brent (Nicolas Cage) jokes around with his little son Josh (Zackary Arthur) and mom Kendall (Selma Blair) tries and fails to get her daughter Carly (Anne Winters) to be friendly to her again, and all before school. But there's a report on the news that suggests all may not be well in the world; the Ryans don't think it has anything to do with them, or anyone else they know, yet when the newscaster relates the story of a child killed in a car crash that might have been deliberately caused by the mother, how were they to be aware this was the beginning of something truly frightening?

Nicolas Cage must be sent plenty of scripts where the writer expects him to bring the freaky to the table, with at least one scene where he can lose his temper, get incredibly agitated, or otherwise lose his shit over something that his fans will find hugely entertaining to watch. He must also reject a lot of those scripts, for he has not done this crazy act in every movie he has been in, even though those fans are a little let down that he has not brought the funny, intentionally or otherwise. He must have found something in director Brian Taylor's screenplay amusing, for he claimed it was the best fun he had had working on a role in years, and it genuinely showed - he was enjoying himself.

For that reason, the seasoned, not to say hardened Cage aficionado, who had long given up on him fulfilling his early promise in dramatic roles, were now content to marvel at his dad role here, and parts like it, and wonder where he got his energy from. A well-known eccentric, it was difficult to discern just how far he was playing up to the expectations of his audience, or otherwise if this was what his career had settled into, a pendulum swing between doleful seriousness and over the top wacky depending on what was required. This tale of parents sent into a frenzy of trying to kill their own kids when they are psychically infected by a mystery signal was very much in the latter category.

Note the signal was never explained, in fact Taylor was reluctant to explain anything at all beyond his high concept was a thing his characters had to deal with, though curiously his sympathies were not entirely with the victimised children and teenagers. As we see in a lot of establishing, the parents were jealous of their offspring's youth and all the possibilities that lay ahead, whereas the adults were stuck with diminishing years of hard work with little reward, a future that was edging them every day closer to the scrapheap, and the little darlings they had brought into the world showing barely any interest in thanking them as social media had them wholly self-obsessed with any affection for their family swapped for irritation that these people they are related to are trying to tell them what to do.

In that fashion, Mom and Dad appeared to be teaching those ungrateful wretches a lesson that polite society would not allow in real life, while at the same time providing a wild-eyed parody of how the kids saw their too-controlling parents who in this fiction are so intent on guiding their kids' lives that they are guiding them to an early grave. It should be noted that while Cage committed to this as only he can, he was matched by a subtler performance by Blair who although she had her own character's freakouts to deal with, also conveyed a deeply felt frustration that her best years were behind her, and she had fallen into the trap of the nuclear family that had no room for women her age enjoying any kind of fulfilment. Brent, meanwhile, being played by Cage came across as already about to snap at any moment even before he saw the signal on television, which was becoming a familiar trope post-Videodrome. Don't get the wrong idea: though this had its observations, it remained a horror movie in essence, and if it didn't get too graphic (thankfully), it did tear along with some verve.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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