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Studio: Kino International
Year: 2008
Cast: Matt Boren, Flo Jacobs, Ken Jacobs, Dana Varon
Director: Azazel Jacobs
Release Date: May 05, 2009
Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, language)
Run Time: 01h:38m:22s
Genre(s): drama

ìLaura, do you know what itís like to watch your parents get old?î - Mikey (Matt Boren)


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I really don't know what to think about a title like this. I saw it on a few 2008 Top 10 Lists though, so I'm hoping for the best.

Movie Grade: A

DVD Grade: A

So, despite the fact that Iím among those who have lived in the same general area my entire life, Iíve always wondered what it would be like to have left this area and moved to another state. Even more dynamic is what it would be like to return home after being away for a long period of time. Such a dynamic is explored in the quiet, subtly powerful, and little-seen 2008 film, Mommaís Man. Written and directed by Azazel Jacobs, this masterful film is a slow, meandering depiction of a man who, if not in full mid-life crisis mode, is pretty damn close.

Matt Boren plays Mikey, a young family man who returns to his childhood home in New York, visiting his mother (Flo Jacobs) and father (Ken Jacobs). He originally planned to only stay for a few days before returning to his home in California, but Mikey continues to make excuses for staying to both his wife, Laura (Dana Varon) and his parents. Soon, it becomes a question of not whether Mikey wants to leave his parentsí house, but whether he can emotionally, or physically even set foot outside.

Mikey is clearly a surrogate version of the filmmaker, made all the more clear in his casting of real-life parents, Flo and Ken. They are asked to play Mikeyís parents essentially as themselves, and the result is two of the most natural performances youíll ever see. Jacobs could easily have asked his mom and dad to actually act like scripted characters, but fortunately he lets Floís slightly annoying overbearing motherly qualities come through in all of their compelling glory. Flo and Ken donít have much to say throughout the course of the film, but their presence far transcends that of typical parental units, and is a key component of what makes this movie tick.

Jacobs handling of the filmís overall tone is what really elevates Mommaís Man to a higher level than, at least on the surface, it deserves to be. Everything is drab, from the look of the film, to Mikeyís demeanor, to his parentsí vocal tones, but it eventually becomes clear that this dreariness is essential to the film paying off at the end. Jacobs has things basically crawl along at the slowest possible pace for a good 45 minutes, which is a huge risk in these days of hyperkinetic action sequences that only barely satisfy many audiencesí 2-second attention spans. Such plodding along turns out to be a stroke of genius when we get to the filmís turning point, an intervention of sorts between Mikey and his parents. Even this scene could have been a clichÈd ìbig revealî that turns the film on its head, but instead, itís only another piece of a larger puzzle that is more than satisfyingly completed by the time the end credits roll.
Kinoís disc is surprisingly excellent, with a dreary video transfer and low-key audio track working perfectly with the material. Some great extras are highlighted by Mommaís Family, a 42-minute short film, also directed by Azazel Jacobs, and featuring his creepy return to the set of Mommaís Man. If Kino can include a healthy number of extras like this for future releases (and, for goodness sake, get on the Blu-ray bandwagon already!), then independent film buffs will be smiling for years to come.

Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - May 5, 2009, 5:28 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: returning home, mid-life crisis

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