Directed and written by Brian Taylor, the co-auteur behind Crank: High Voltage, arguably the craziest action movie of the last twenty years, comes Mom and Dad with a pedigree weird films are made of. We are set in a world where parents have turned violent and are obsessed with killing their children. Why so? It’s never explained, nor does it really matter. The important part is that Nic Cage (Brent) stars as Carly and Josh’s dad, which, even if you’re not familiar with Taylor’s previous work, gives you a good idea of what you’re in for.
Cage has said this is his favorite role over the past decade, which only makes sense. The premise is dark and is a setup for what he does best: give a 110% over-the-top portrayal. Not many actors can blend menace and comedy the way Cage can, and this type of movie is tailor-made for him.
The storyline, as far as it goes, is little more than a cat-and-mouse chase. There is a backstory about Cage’s character longing for his youth, and more than a few hints that he feels he might have been happier without a wife (Kendall, portrayed by Selma Blair) and kids. The depth of the setup is that of an afterthought. Mom and Dad would have benefited from pulling a High Voltage and jump straight into action instead of dwelling on character development. We’re there for a crazy ride, which luckily starts about twenty minutes in.
Think of Mom and Dad as a demented Home Alone. As Carly and Josh (Anne Winters and Zack Arthur) set traps around the house, as inventive as anything Kevin comes up within Chris Columbus’s seminal Christmas movie. The two young actors do a serviceable job as the freaked-out offspring but lack Macaulay Culkin’s charisma. It’d be going a step too far to call their portrayal memorable, and some of the urgency is lost as a result.
Nic Cage, meanwhile, is Nic Cage, which should give you a decent idea of what to expect from him in Mom and Dad. The crazy, bulging eyes; the manic grin; it’s all on display. He might not reach the level he showed in Color out of Space, in which he delivered a more nuanced performance, yet Cage being Cage is always a joy to watch.
(Neither here nor there, but Cage is by all accounts as normal and professional as anyone on set, and apparently always supportive of his younger co-stars. It goes to show there’s more depth to his performances than many give him credit for.)
Props to Selma Blair – an actor I know for more subdued roles – who easily keeps up with Cage. Through the film, she switches between predatory to motherly while trying to lure her kids out of hiding. She has a demented air about her that fits the movie well.
Overall, Mom and Dad is a good domestic chase story. There are some hold-your-breath moments and plenty of graphic yet comical violence. It’s a hard movie to take seriously, which isn’t too surprising seeing as it comes from the man behind High Voltage. Neither is it a bad thing – the world needs more entertaining craziness in it.
For those who like their films to be over the top, Mom and Dad is more than worth the watch, even if it never reaches the level of weirdness we’ve seen from Taylor and Cage before.