Warner Bros. // 2007 // 93 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // June 16th, 2008
You have to fight for the right to never grow up.
I often disagree with how the big studios handle the theatrical distribution of smaller films, but in the case of Mama's Boy, Warner Bros. did just the right thing. Instead of releasing it nationwide, Warner threw the movie into a limited number of theaters before quickly putting it out on DVD. I guess they realized a little too late that this film was not going to pull in a significant profit. Mama's Boy is not necessarily the disaster I expected it to be, but it's definitely not good enough to keep viewers engaged.
Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) jumps into the role of Jeffrey Mannus, a 29-year-old slacker who still lives with his mother Jan (Diane Keaton, Annie Hall). Ever since the accidental death of his father, Jeffrey has been keeping his solemn promise to always protect his mother and never leave her side. But when Jan falls for the charming success coach Mert Rosenbloom (Jeff Daniels, Dumb & Dumber), Jeffrey faces his biggest challenge yet. Realizing he may soon have to move out and finally become an adult, he engages in an evil scheme to kick Mert out of his mother's life for good. Let the battle begin...
Mama's Boy is just another lame movie about a weirdo trying to get rid of his mother's new lover. Boasting a lackluster script with shallow characters and practically no jokes at all, Tim Hamilton's directorial debut offers us nothing we haven't already seen many times before. Essentially, the main story line focuses on an ignorant jerk who refuses to grow up and thinks his immature actions are actually protecting his mother. Consequently, he spends most of the movie trying to bring down her new boyfriend, realizing only at the very end that he's only made things worse. The story couldn't be more predictable.
One of the things I really couldn't stand in this movie was the slow-paced plot. The film slips into a state of boredom after the first 30 minutes, making the remaining hour seem like an eternity. Although Hamilton's direction doesn't speed up things in any way, the real problem is the simplistic script by Hank Nelken, the guy who also brought us the atrociously bad "Are We Done Yet?" His empty characters stumble through the entire movie exposing their eccentric behaviors, but none of them are awkward enough to make viewers laugh. They are rather stereotypical and very bland, and so are their relationships.
Then there's the war between Jeffrey and Mert, which couldn't be more monotonous. Both act like complete retards throughout, trying to push Jan to kick one of them out of her house. Again, predictability kicks in, and again, the viewer is left with absolutely nothing to get excited about. Part of the flick also focuses on Jeffrey spending some time with his new acquaintance Nora Flannigan (Anna Faris), a singer who dreams of becoming an international star. I applaud the screenwriter's intention of creating a character who tries to steer Jeffrey into the right direction, but Heder and Faris quite simply don't share any chemistry.
This quickly leads me to the acting. In the role of Jeffrey, Heder does what he always does, but with less energy and wit. He plays yet another idiot who's too retarded to grow up but ends up learning a valuable lesson in the end. As far as Keaton is concerned, she already had her share of disastrous comedies. Her performance as Jeffrey's mother is not worth mentioning. Faris' character spends most of the time singing blatant songs about corporate America, but she adds little interest to the story. The only two actors to bring a little juice to the party are Jeff Daniels and the great Eli Wallach.
Warner Bros. chose to slam both a widescreen and full-screen version onto this one DVD, and I don't blame them. I didn't check the full-screen version because I've simply had enough after watching it once, but the widescreen transfer is clean throughout. The film features mostly dialogue and only a few musical pieces, but the audio transfer works just fine as well.
The special features section on the disc is rather lame, although I was glad not to have to sit through more boring stuff. The bonus material contains some mediocre additional scenes and a rather dull commentary by Tim Hamilton. I didn't listen to all of it, but Hamilton seemed to have really liked Nelken's script. What I listened to was not awful, but it was not particularly enlightening, either. It's always hard to get interested in a commentary if you pretty much hate the feature film. Filmmakers who plan on going into directing may learn quite a few things from him, though.
Skip this sucker. It's not worth your time or money. Jon Heder, you're grounded!
Review content copyright © 2008 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Filmmaker's Commentary
* Additional Scenes
* Official Site