Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Lance Henriksen, Robert T. Cunningham, Joseph D. Reitman, Rachel Melvin, Olivia Crocicchia, Zackary Arthur, Samantha Lemole
Written by: Brian Taylor
Directed by: Brian Taylor
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing horror violence, language throughout, some sexual content/nudity and teen drug use
Running Time: 83
Date: 01/19/2018

Mom and Dad (2018)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by Brian Taylor (Crank and Crank: High Voltage), this nimble, kinetic, ultra-dark comedy rampages through its gleefully wicked story without overwhelming its relatable characters.

In Mom and Dad, for no explained reason, parents in a suburban community suddenly turn on their children, and attempt to kill them. Teen Carly Ryan (Anne Winters) is already at a difficult stage, and no longer communicates with her parents, Kendall (Selma Blair) and Brent (Nicolas Cage). She steals money from her mother's purse to buy drugs for a friend, and her father hates her African-American boyfriend, Damon (Robert T. Cunningham).

When murderous parents show up at school, Carly and Damon head for her home to rescue her little brother Josh (Zackary Arthur). Unfortunately, Damon is knocked cold and Carly and Josh wind up trapped in the basement. Working together, their relentless parents keep coming up with more and more homicidal plans. But this strange day is not yet over.

Mom and Dad offers up yet another banshee-like, over-the-top performance from Nicolas Cage (with whom Taylor worked on Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance), but this time it's rooted in a kind of real pain and regret. The same goes for the always-great Selma Blair, as a mom whose motherhood did not turn out the way she'd hoped. The movie saves some crafty flashbacks to earlier times to illustrate and deepen the relationships between the family members.

However, this is a breakneck, lunatic movie, and does not hold back in the slightest on its brutal idea (one TV commentator suggests that, sometimes, pigs will kill their young). It is not for viewers with normal constitutions. It may cross a line from time to time, as when a new mother starts to squeeze the life from her newborn infant, but mostly it remains in the realm of dark humor.

It cheerfully brings meat hammers, wire hangers, and a "Sawzall" (a cordless, reciprocating saw) to the relentless game, but also occasionally holds back, just a little, for effect. Many darkly funny little surprises keep the movie revved up right until the final moments.

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