Mama's Boy (2007) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language, sexual references, and some drug use
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Jon Heder, Diane Keaton, Jeff Daniels, Anna Faris, Eli Wallach, Dorian Missick
Director: Tim Hamilton
Screenplay: Hank Nelken
Review published January 5, 2008
Mama's Boy is the reverse of your typical "single mom finds a new guy that her son disapproves of" comedy, as in this case, it's the son that has the problems, while his potential new stepfather is the one who must humor the lad's idiosyncrasies. The traditional film in this vein would have had the mother head over heels for a man that only the son can see is a jackass Perhaps the reason why that version is traditional is because the other way just isn't funny, at least if this film is any indication. A major impediment to the film as a whole is that the son comes across as so pathetic and unsympathetic, we don't care whether or not he achieves any sense of peace or happiness by the end. Without a rooting interest in the well-being of our star, the best we can hope is that the competition for Mom's attention between the two males will reap some choice humor. Alas, the laughs are mild and, for long segments, absent.
Jon Heder (Surf's Up, Blades of Glory) stars as Jeffrey, the 29-year-old "mama's boy" of the title, still living at home with his ditzy single widowed mother, Jan (Keaton, The Family Stone), working part time in a bookstore waiting for his first big astronomical discovery. Jeffrey's world is rocked when Jan meets and is courted by a motivational speaker named Mert Rosenbloom (Daniels, The Lookout), and now that she's dating, she no longer has all the time to spend doting on her spoiled son's every whim. Refusing to grow up without a fight, Jeffrey sets his sights on ridding his mother of her chance at happiness by trying to be so obnoxious, he won't want to be a member of the family, while also trying to paint Mert as the kind of man who is all wrong for her. Meanwhile, Jeffrey catches the eye of a local amateur singer named Nora (Faris, My Super Ex-Girlfriend), who, despite being treated like crap, inexplicably finds his uncouth ways endearing enough to try to be his friend, and perhaps more.
Heder has played some oddball characters before, even ones that weren't necessarily sympathetic (Napoleon Dynamite being the most obvious), but we like him all the same. Not so much in Mama's Boy. In fact, his character is so detestable, the only chance for a happy ending might be for him to get some sort of comeuppance at the hands of his hapless mother or her ingratiating boyfriend, preferably resulting in Jeffrey's grisly demise. Sadly, this sort of development is not to be, as screenwriter Hank Nelken (Are We Done Yet?, Saving Silverman) must, deep down, have a soft spot for the loner man-child enough to give him a fast track to happiness in the form of his hot babe girlfriend who willingly looks over everything that would repel even the neediest and loneliest of women. The only way I could remotely buy that such a girl would be pursuing Jeffrey would be if she desperately needed citizenship to stop certain deportation. And then, only if the country were strife with war. And she were wanted for heinous crimes that would result in the death sentence upon arrival.
©2008 Vince Leo