Published on February 23rd, 2018 | by Dan Nicholls


Mom and Dad

Nicolas Cage goes full nuclear Cage in Mom and Dad, from the insane directors of the Crank series, a How Did This Get Made favourite.

Mass violent hysteria turns parents against their children in Mom and Dad, a film with a forgettable title that falls way short of its bleakly comic ambitions. Starring Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair as Brent and Kendall Ryan, this direct-to-video-quality feature from one half of the team that brought you Crank, Crank: High Voltage, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance sucks the promise out of a fairly strong premise.

The Ryan children – Carly and Josh (Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur, respectively) – are left to their own devices to keep their murderous parents at bay when their small community is gripped by a wave of unpredictable yet very specific violence. Parents are possessed with the desire to kill their spawn – seems like a relatable enough parable, no? Subversion and satire are sights not set upon in this film, though.

We’re given a glimpse of the wildness that results from this widespread frenzy of adult-versus-children carnage and it’s admittedly a pretty awesome concept. But Mom and Dad falls victim to the problems that befell The Purge: amazing idea, disappointing execution. And just like that first Purge horror, the majority of the action takes place in a family home where the surprises are few and the production value is cheap. It’s unlikely that Mom and Dad will merit superior sequels like The Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year – both movies that knew how to take their setup and knock its execution out of the park.

Is Mom and Dad destined to become the next late-night massacre masterpiece of genre fanatics? It’s doubtful, but there is a certain earnestness to the proceedings that’s kind of admirable. It’s like the filmmakers are acutely aware of how ridiculous this is and try to play to our expectations accordingly. But the finished project feels like something the average moviegoer could’ve written when it should have busted the ceilings of our presumptions of the material.

Cards on the table, here: I am a massive fan of Nicolas Cage. Good Cage, bad Cage, silly Cage, and buzzing Cage – I’ll take it all. I’m generally forgiving of most of the man’s work because (whether you like to admit it or not) he is a true actor at least striving for emotional truth even though he’s dialed a few notches higher than you might expect most actors to go. If Mom and Dad can’t become a new black comedy classic for a Cage fan such as I, it’s unlikely to do much for you.

If you’re in the Vancouver area, Mom and Dad is featuring as part of a Nic Cage double bill on February 23rd (with the Coen Brothers classic Raising Arizona hitting the silver screen close to midnight). There’s never not a bad time for some good ol’ Cage craziness, but Mom and Dad is just another one of the actor’s unwanted bastard children.

Editor’s Note: There is also a screening in Saskatoon on February 23rd at The Broadway Theatre, brought to you by the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival.

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is a Vancouver-based, lifelong movie geek who's been a projectionist, critic, director, (accidental) actor, and writer in the industry since E.T. phoned home. @dannicholls

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