Thursday, April 30, 2009

SPOTLIGHT: Two Mother's Day Movie Moms

In anticipation of the upcoming Mother's Day holiday, I've been racking my brains to see if I could bring in something fresh that hasn't been listed to death on other media outlets. My first thoughts went to television moms since we get to know them a lot better when compared to cinematic moms. I figured Top TV Moms would be a good start, but I would just be littering it with typical heavyweights like Claire Huxtable, Marge Simpson, Florence Henderson, etc. In a nutshell, a list that's been done before. So then I thought about ranking the under appreciated mothers that don't get included in those lists but ought to (it's in the works and should be out soon). To hold everyone over, I'm spotlighting two moms from the world of film, from May 2008 to May 2009, that showcase, in limited screen time, both spectrums of maternity: The Good, and the Bad (both are ugly). FIRST UP: the Good Mom.

"Mom" from Observe a
nd Report

A role so small, no name is ever given to her, yet Celia Weston made sure to bring the funny. She plays the boozy mom to Seth Rogen's bipolar Head of Mall Security. Being piss drunk for most of her scenes (and slightly drunk for the rest) doesn't prevent her from being an encouraging, nuturing single parent to Paul Blart, Jr. Most of her parenting comes in the form of advice, and praise, and when she can't think of the right things to say, she just utters "stuff that Mom's are supposed to say to their sons." The bottom line is though Seth Rogen is a twisted mall cop (well, the whole movie is twisted, and in a very good way), "Mom" never fails to be 100% on his side ready to propel him forward to capture his dreams, even if she's passed out cold on the carpet in her soiled sweatpants.

And now....the Bad Mom.

"Mrs. Miller" from Doubt

The mother of the only African American kid in a 60's Catholic school, this character (and by extension, the actress) has received a lot of acclaim due primarily to the Oscar nomination that followed. Yes, she's only in the film for about 10 minutes, and yes, she musters up some serious tears and nose-goo that probably won a lot of folks over, but I still feel it necessary to spotlight the idiot parent that she portrayed. Cleaning homes to make ends meet, Mrs. Miller is confronted by Principal Meryl Streep with a very disturbing claim: The parish priest Father Flynn (P.S. Hoffman) is having an inappropriate (i.e. Michael Jackson-type) relationship with her son Donald, an alter server. The reasoning behind it? He's the only black kid at school and the priest has gotten close by looking out for him so the others don't bully him too bad. Principal Meryl suspects the priest gave him wine and yada yada yada. When she lays out all her suspicions for this mother, Mrs. Miller becomes outraged, right? Wroooong. She basically says, "Well, this priest has been good to him when everyone else wanted to beat him to a pulp, and he only needs to make it to graduation and then he'll go off to another school." As Meryl presses further, Mrs. Miller feeds up further rationalization: Her husband is an abusive bastard who already beats the kid for being kinda different (in a fruity way) and if news of this scandal got out, he'd straight up go to town on the boy. She pleads with this Head Nun to keep her suspicions quiet, pretty much sentencing the boy to months more of man-boy sickness. I won't say how the movie ends, but her little 10 minutes that won over so many Academy voters made me want to puke in her mouth.

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