Nothing is going right for Noah Cooper (Dax Shepard), who has just been fired from his job as sports therapist. He goes home looking for comfort from his lovely teacher wife Clare (Liv Tyler), but instead, finds a houseguest, her screenwriter cousin Myron Stubbs (Mike White). Things get much worse, however, when his overbearing mother Marilyn (Diane Keaton) lands on their doorstep needing somewhere to stay, after having left his father Gene (Ken Howard). Now Noah has to find a way to manage all his pressures: finding a job, a wife desperately wanting a baby and a mother who won't quit smothering.
Review by Louise Keller:
First there was Jane Fonda's Monster in Law and now comes Diane Keaton's Monster Mother, who needs chaos to function and family members to orchestrate. While Fonda's creation was a juicy, over-the-top diva in which all the irksome traits of the 'M' persona were craftily syphoned, Keaton's Marilyn is rather irritating, bearing similar characteristics to her last role of the hysterical mother of the bride in Because I Said So. Hence our focus goes to the object of Marilyn's torment: Dax Shepard as her son Noah, who runs away with our sympathies and the film. Filled with crazy situations, this comedy of errors may not work 100% of the time, but there are enough laughs to allow us to delight in its lunacy, and enough home truths about families and mother/son relationships, to be touched.
In the opening scenes, Shepard's Noah confides that unlike most people who worry about their mother's mortality, his fear is that she will live forever. And without good reason. Marilyn is a son's worst nightmare. Outrageously outspoken, this mother intrudes, interferes and behaves inappropriately at all times. It is Halloween and Keaton's Marilyn makes her grand entrance dressed like a pumpkin with her five cute dogs in tow. That's how it all begins, at the end of a trying day for Noah, who is trying to deal with the trauma of having been fired. Liv Tyler is lovely as the wife who dons sexy underwear and black stockings and sprinkles rose petals over the bed in anticipation of the baby she desperately wants to conceive, and I like Mike White as the down-and-out screenwriter who talks non-stop to his voice-recognition script program. Jerry Lambert as the sleaze-bag owner of Carpet Bazaar also prompts some chuckles.
Vince Di Meglio's direction is fine as all the plot strands weave together and culminate in a hilarious funeral scene that becomes a family forum. While Keaton plays everything at full throttle (the bar scene in which she sings is embarrassing), Shepard grounds the proceedings with a likeable, low-key approach (wearing underpants four sizes too small to lower his sperm count not withstanding). It's light hearted and funny and for the most part, I had a good time.
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CAST: Diane Keaton, Dax Shepard, Liv Tyler, Mike White, Ken Howard, Selma Stern
PRODUCER: Johnson Chan, Bill Johnson, Tim Rasmussen, Jay Roach
DIRECTOR: Vince Di Meglio
SCRIPT: Tim Rasmussen, Vince Di Meglio
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Julio Macat
EDITOR: Kelly Matsumoto
MUSIC: Manish Raval, Tom Wolfe
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Hutman
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 8, 2008
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.