Main cast: Nicolas Cage (Brent Ryan), Selma Blair (Kendall Ryan), Anne Winters (Carly Ryan), Zackary Arthur (Josh Ryan), Robert Cunningham (Damon), Olivia Crocicchia (Riley), Brionne Davis (Tanner), Rachel Melvin (Jeannie), Samantha Lemole (Jenna), and Lance Henriksen (Mel Ryan)
Director: Brian Taylor
The Ryans are a typical suburban middle-class family: full of simmering resentment with one another and their own lot in life. Father Brent is feeling some midlife crisis coming on, as he desperately yearns for his younger, wilder days and is stymied by a wife who seems bent on thwarting his efforts to feel better about his current life – she doesn’t even like it when he tries to set up his own man cave, ugh. He is also annoyed by his daughter Carly, who insists on dating a younger boy in school. Kendall wonders what has happened to her, as she is stuck with a man-child husband, a daughter who disrespects her and steals from her, and a staggering realization that even her old friends are starting to remark on how un-fun she is now.
Fortunately, both husband and wife eventually rediscover the magic of their marriage, when some mysterious static – transmitted over electronic devices by who knows who – sends parents into a murderous rage to kill their offspring. They bond over their efforts to murder the hell out of Carly and Josh, and given how obnoxious Carly is here, I’m actually cheering for her to bite the big one in the most violent way possible. Hey, I’m sure Anne Winters is probably a good actress, who knows, but her character is so irritating that she deserves to be smacked with a bus like that annoying girl in Final Destination.
Mom and Dad looks on paper to be a dark comedic horror film, one that plays on the resentment many parents must feel especially when dealing with rebellious teenage spawns, and in some ways, it is exactly just that. However, only Selma Blair seems to have received and understood the memo, as her character is the only one that resembles a human being that the audience can empathize with. The early parts of the movie also seem to get the memo: there are some genuinely conflicting moments even, especially the scene with Damon, Carly’s boyfriend, who has clearly been physically abused by his father before – even when he is nearly killed by the man this time, he also instinctively tries to protect that man from harm.
However, director and scriptwriter Brian Taylor must be a big fan of Nicolas Cage, because he soon lets Mr Cage overpower the entire movie with the man’s brand of ham that transforms the entire movie into a dumb man child version of Home Alone. Let’s put it this way: this movie comes off like the braindead sibling of Home Alone in the second half, and that is a problem. Mr Cage stated in later interviews that Mr Taylor reined him in during this film; looking at the result, I feel that Mr Taylor probably should have used a taser or a whip. Mr Cage’s ham here really kills any depth or complexity that may have been present should another actor was in his shoes.
Oh, and the kids remaining annoying through and through – the movie really wasted a genuine opportunity to make the viewers squirm in their seats by really pushing the envelope and letting the viewers root for the brats’ deaths. Actually, this movie is far tamer than it appears to be at first. Sure, some no-name kids get killed, but one kid with a name here that does get killed is also portrayed as too dumb to live, and hence the killing is probably a merciful one. In all other ways, this movie is unexpectedly tame and even conventional.
Mom and Dad has its moments, but once the novelty of seeing random nobody kids get killed wears off, it turns out to be a pretty average movie that is too timid for its own good.