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Idyllic Suburbia. Mom 'n' Apple Pie. Or not. This outrageous comedy turns suburban America on its head. Mad cow disease, Corporate Greed, Mob Mentality, the Cult of Motherhood, propaganda, discrimination, and dangerous kitchen utensils all find a home in this wild social satire. Written by
If your idea of an American social satire is "The Stepford Wives" or "Edward Scissorhands", then watch out. This makes them look like Snow White.
"In the Land of Milk and Money" is a hilarious, acidic, dark, unashamedly over-the-top satire that mercilessly skewers "the man". In this case "the man" may apply--but is certainly not limited--to greedy corporate execs, fanatical military goons, unethical mad scientists, clueless suburbanites, the cult of motherhood, and of course literally the "man" ...misogynistic neanderthals who seek to subjugate women and anyone who looks like a woman (yes, even transvestites apparently).
I mentioned the classics "The Stepford Wives" and "Edward Scissorhands" which used tongue-in-cheek absurdity to ridicule society's decay (I should also throw in the satirical masterpiece "Dr. Strangelove" too). Here there is no attempt to cloak the message in subtlety. No cheek required; we're talking full out tongue assault.
For example, the opening scene gives us goofy cheerful music over images of a bouncy milkman dressed in white, ruffling the hair of chubby faced kids while bringing milk to suburbanite mothers, interspersed with creamy commercial propaganda from the milk industry. The opening scene culminates in a disturbing yet morbidly funny event which I won't ruin for you. The sarcastic tone is immediately set, and the film wastes no time in setting up the premise.
The premise, in case you couldn't guess from the wacky DVD cover, is that mothers suddenly turn into psychos, prompting one very McCarthyistic witch hunt in retaliation (with one of the best lines ever: "Senator, let me ask you one question. Have you, or have you ever been... a MOTHER?"). This is a low budget picture by Hollywood standards; yet rookie director Susan Emshwiller makes up for it with surrealism and extremely creative editing. For example, action scenes will jump to toy miniatures like you might remember from the 1950s children's show Gumby. I thought it worked beautifully, considering the way the film ridicules society's child-like cluelessness and 50s ignorance with regard to the catastrophic problems we face.
You'll laugh until you realize how true this story is (figuratively speaking, I hope), and then you might just cry your eyes out. Indeed, the director did one very effective trick that caught me by surprise. In the midst of all the silliness, there was suddenly one very powerful, sobering moment. You'll recognize it immediately because it will hit you like a ton of bricks. And although I didn't like the feeling at first, I have to applaud the director for the effectiveness of the message. Yes, it's all fun & games, but it's also frighteningly real.
"In the Land of Milk and Money" is a great film to watch if you're moderately-to-extremely cynical about where American society & government (and corporate scheming) are taking us. Probably not a good date movie, unless you & your date have plans to overthrow the government afterwards. Regardless, it's a very memorable flick. I'll tell you one thing, I'll never look at a glass of milk the same way again. If you're sitting on the fence about going vegan, organic, or just plain healthy, watch this movie for some crazy motivation.
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