As parents, you’re supposed to protect and care for your children, right? Sign their permission slips, feed them, make sure they make curfew, and one day kill them. No? Well, ‘Mom and Dad’ is so strangely engrossing and completely batshit crazy that you can’t help but enjoy your time watching it. Brian Taylor, responsible for those ‘Crank’ films starring Jason Statham, goes out on a limb here as he tries to create something uniquely bold. There’s no better way to tackle a film so bizarre than to assess it just as ferociously as its titular actor, Nicolas Cage. From ‘Vampire’s Kiss’ to ‘The Wicker Man’, Cage has never discouraged his passion to tackle everything. His career of oddball roles and an Oscar win have led him to this role. We see Cage demolish a pool table all while singing the Hokey Pokey. This is admirable in a way only the Nic Cage could pull off, because after all, he is a treasure-seeker. Alongside Selma Blair, ‘Mom and Dad’ tabs quite the impression, just so long as you forgive its crumbling narrative and abnormal editing. It is ridiculousness wrapped up in pure adrenaline fun.
‘Mom and Dad’ is unlike your usual nonsensical trip. Imagine your modern suburban society. Now imagine it if all parents were to suddenly snap into feral instincts to kill their children. That’s pretty much the premise of ‘Mom and Dad’ and it never lets go of you. It cranks up the psycho and leaves you unsupervised to deal with its mess. Fast-paced and sketchy, it makes its way through a string of violent chases to give the audience an erratic feeling of discomfort without ever really saying anything, but that’s it. There’s nothing more to offer here than a nihilistic approach to parenting. One day, parents just show up early outside of school cafeterias just waiting for that bell to ring so they can wring some necks themselves. It’s oddly amusing to see these same parents tackling and murdering their children running across the football field. The choreography is really loose and wild, allowing for some quick camera work to focus in on the madness.
The film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and for that, we’re grateful. You could even give it a pass as a thrilling comedy. Cage and Blair give convincing performances that snap to fluid hysteria like a weak twig. Cage breaks into a maniacal, kill-hungry father and it’s a no-brainer this performance will be recorded as another cult “freak out” in his career. Cage is unabashedly charismatic and glorious in this role. We couldn’t have expected much else here, and hey, we can really get a kick out of this! Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur star as the two kids trying to escape from their parents’ grasp. They have to work together to overcome this insatiable strike and we can sort of get behind them at some points. The game of cat and mouse gets a strange twist here. More than its unnecessary parent backstories and questionable origins, the film suffers a lot out of its abrupt ending. Maybe we didn’t come in for much, but it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Nothing is quite resolved and we realize it was just all show, no prize.
If you watch ‘Mom and Dad’ hoping for a critically good film, you’re not going to have a good time and you’re going to be greatly disappointed. It’s the kind of film you put on when you have friends over and you just want to see them squirm at just how laughably insane the film is. Truly, it’s a film better enjoyed if you just roll with its lunacy. It’s safe to say it’s self-aware of how crazy the core concept is, so it plays with its execution, although a complete mess, and gives us a backbone of crazy resilience to feast on. I’ll say it, it’s my favourite Brian Taylor film (though that’s not saying much). Our beloved Nic Cage did not go underused and that’s all we really care about.
Directed by: Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur