Mom and Dad offers the sort of cathartic release parents search for wherever they can find it. Rather than loosen the apron strings to step back and let the little darlings live and learn, it tightens the fabric around their necks until all signs of life have disappeared from their bodies.
While that all sounds pretty horrific, thankfully in Brian Taylor’s (best known for his hyper-energetic Jason Statham-led Crank series) new film it’s all played for laughs. Think of the insanity of The Purge minus the satire and you’re halfway there. Plus, we are given the increasingly rare sight of Nicolas Cage unhinged, which is worth the admission price all by itself.
The story brings us into the lives of the Ryan family living in American middle-class suburbia: mum, Kendall (Selma Blair), her husband Brent (Cage), moody teenager Carly (Anne Winters), and their youngest Josh (Zackary Arthur). They’re a typical family by all accounts with Brent stepping into a midlife crisis, Kendall only a short distance behind and Carly and Josh doing all they can to push them over the edge.
Out of the blue, a strange phenomenon occurs that triggers parents to start killing their own children. Carly’s first thought is to rush home from school to protect her little brother, which leaves them trapped in their own home fighting for survival as ‘mom’ and dad turn psycho.
From that point onwards Mom and Dad turns into a home invasion film with the kids desperately trying to outwit their crazy-eyed parents. If Home Alone was made into an 18-certificate horror it would probably look a little something like this. Revolvers, power saws, coat hangers and kitchen knives are all thrust through the air in opposing directions as parental nurture turns into parental torture.
Things start out with a lot of energy and some well-earned laughs, especially when Cage is mournfully remembering his younger, wilder days compared to the neutered married man he has become. This works well initially but once it becomes clear there is nothing beyond Taylor’s crazed parent concept it quickly runs out of steam. The flashbacks seen from all four family members’ perspective attempts to give us insight into the characters where none is needed. It only serves to kill the momentum, when instead a manic, full-throttle approach would allow it to make the most out of a bizarre, comedic idea.
Many of Cage’s most memorable career moments have seen him in full overacting overdrive going beyond caricature and balancing on the edge of hysteria. He serves it up again on occasion here (a pool table gets the worst of it) but the second half of the film lacks the energy to let him freely off the leash to revel in the insanity of the situation.
This is simple, lobotomised b-movie schlock that unfortunately gets stuck somewhere in-between teasing themes it doesn’t have time to explore and a horror concept it never fully embraces. That said, there is still fun to be had with Mom and Dad and you might never look at your parents in the same way again.