Volume 90, Issue 69

Tuesday, January 28, 1997



Mother will she break my heart?

Starring Albert Brooks, Debbie Reynolds and Rob Morrow
Directed by Albert Brooks
At Wellington 8, 7:05 and 9:40 p.m.

John Lennon summarizes the complex relationship one has with one's mother with the succinct yet not oversimplified line in his song "Mother" – "Mother, you had me/ I never had you." The basis of this song is revisited in Albert Brooks new movie, Mother.

John Henderson (Albert Brooks) is recovering from his second divorce and in doing so, decides to further his current life in order to discover the underlying reasons for the faults in his relationships with women. John comes about the idea that it all goes back to his relationship with his mother.

As a means of coming to terms with this relationship, John decides to conduct an experiment. The experiment isn't highly defined but can be seen as an attempt by John to learn about his relationship with his mother by living with her. But lo, the grand poobah of revelations comes to him from the voices of an infinite amount of angels on the head of a pin, letting him know why he's such a screwup with women. Well, not really, but John is seeking something and he doesn't even know exactly what, but he is willing to experience the experiment.

John is portrayed by the much-acclaimed Brooks. Being the main character, director and screenwriter allows Brooks a degree of control that shows up in the cohesive nature of the film. John is a well-done character with the quirks one comes to expect from close friends or family. Not only do the quirks of the individuals shine through but also the quirks of the interactions between them. This interaction is an essential constituent of a good-relationship movie. A constituent Mother has.

Debbie Reynolds returns to the cinema after a lengthy absence from the big screen and gives a performance that is much-deserving of the acclaim it has attracted.

Although only a minimal amount of characters are in the movie, the side roles are played with such stereotypes they become annoying and detracting. These characters appear to be acting out their roles in the movie rather than being real people as both John and his mother appear to be. One of these characters is John's successful family-man brother (Rob Morrow) who has a competitive relationship with his brother over their mother.

The film's humour appears to be Brooks' particularly dry, sometimes sarcastic, observational witticisms and comments. This also comes through some of the other characters as evidenced by an early bar scene in which John is out with a friend discussing women, after a recent divorce. When asked why he wishes to be married, John answers, "I want to pass on my seed." Not missing a beat, his friend responds, "Masturbate in the garden."

There are other great lines which harness Brooks' humour. A curious teaser: "I love my mother very much and enjoy having sex with her." Enough said.

The emphasis of the story as a story, rather than as some elaborate extreme of film conventions, gives Brooks' direction room to heighten emotions and distance the amount of bombast filler in a peculiar movie scene. The acting that goes along with the story conveys the overall picture. Mother is sincere, realistic and relatable as almost anyone can connect with an aspect of the mother/child relationship portrayed. Leaving the theatre, you might even question yours.

–Jason Galinski

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997