In terms of batshittery, you don’t get much better than Nicolas Cage. The man has turned unhinged into a kind of art, crafting veritable ballets out of pure insanity. Cage has long baffled critics and audiences with his choices as a performer, but the work keeps flowing leaving the rest of us to wonder, dumbfounded, if there is a limit to his lunacy.
If Cage were to have found his boundary it surely would have happened over the course of Mom and Dad, the new film from writer/director Brian Taylor (Crank, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance). Its premise is so dumb that it can do nothing but work, and Cage is integral to making that happen. There is no wall that can contain Cage’s madness. His limit does not exist.
Depending on where you sit on the Cage fence, this is either a bad thing or the greatest thing. Either is an acceptable reaction to witnessing what you can’t possibly understand, and Cage is as far from understandable as anyone can ever get. He is the perfect complement to Taylor’s brand of so-bad-it’s-amazing cinema. Together, they are a bomb cyclone of perfection that you can either roll with and enjoy or cower from and detest.
Mom and Dad follows 24 hours in the lives of Carly and Josh Ryan (Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur), two normal suburban kids living a typical suburban life. On this day, however, an unknown mass hysteria spreads across the world, causing parents to turn violently against their children. Now, Carly and Ryan find themselves in a generational battle to the death against their parents, Brent and Kendall (Cage and Selma Blair).
While the film does suffer from disjointed pacing and poor characterization, its flaws are easily outshined by its strengths. For the right watcher—the kind who revels in slasher gore and midnight madness double features—Mom and Dad is about as much fun as you can have with a movie. Not only is Cage delightfully bonkers as Brent, Blair, too, delivers an indelibly zany performance that perfectly enhances Cage’s raving instability.
Even with its structural issues and questionable writing, Mom and Dad is far too much fun to quibble with. One scene finds Cage wearing a Misfits shirt and wielding a sledge hammer while singing “The Hokey Pokey,” which kind of tells you everything you need to know about the movie. Does that sound awesome? If so, you’re gonna have a blast. If not? Maybe stay away.
Though ultimately reliant on schlock and awe, Taylor has managed to weave a rather poignant satire about modern suburban life between all the filicide. Both Brent and Kendall are trapped in an existential despair over their waning relevance and their frustrations, even before the murder, are palpable. Admittedly, these themes are handled in a ham-fisted, hacky manner, but it’s perfect for this film, which endeavors to be fun more than meaningful.
Mom and Dad is a new midnight classic that is immediately destined for cult acclaim. It delivers its juice—hilarity, violence, suspense—liberally, ensuring that you’re almost always either laughing or screaming. We might not exactly be talking about quality cinema here, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one helluva great time.
Mom and Dad is now playing in select theaters.