Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Mother (2003)
I tuned in to this movie with the hope of discovering some overlooked gem, a character-study dealing with family relations and dealing with an under-represented subject matter: romance and sexuality among older individuals. Instead, unfortunately, I was left feeling as if I'd just watched a remake of "A Doll's House" written by Darren Star. The performances are strong, but the pacing is excruciatingly slow and the characters are thoroughly unappealing -- mainly selfish, self-absorbed, petty and bitter. The plot concerns a mature (age-wise, anyway), recent widow who falls in love with her neurotic daughter's sleazy, married boyfriend. The widow, feeling she's lead an "unlived" life, is rejuvenated by her much younger lover while the daughter, who feels mum never encouraged her as a child, struggles with the same man who's reluctant to leave his wife. It all comes out, of course, and daughter reacts violently (a disturbing scene) and tosses mum out. Now, I suppose there's intended symbolism with the lover being a handyman renovating the son's house -- but it seems off that it would be the son's house and neither the sister/daughter's or mum's. Anyway, a true clock-ticker and, as with Ibsen, we end with mum leaving her home for good.
I remembered the commercials for this movie back in the 70s, but couldn't convince my parents to take me. They knew better. This, along with movies like "Food of the Gods", was so my kind of movie when I was 10. Now, nearly 30 years later, I figured this would be one of those so-bad-it's-good bad movies, but nope. While it has a precious few of those moments, the other 90 minutes are just plain painful.
The set-up is that generic evil businessman, played by Henry Fonda, commits some kind of environmentally unfriendly act that for some reason causes a huge octopus to attack a coastal town in Southern California where many of the locals appear to have Italian accents. Annnnnyway, John Huston, looking like Ernest Hemingway, plays a journalist trying to solve the mystery of the skeletal bodies washing ashore and consults an oceanographer (Bo Hopkins) whose day job is talking to killer whales at Sea World. Shelley Winters, who plays his Huston's ditsy sister, strangely has a child young enough to be her grandson and opts to stay on land apparently not wanting to risk another capsized boat. After a few people get eaten, Hopkins decides to kill the freak of nature by setting loose his whales on it. That's about it.
Now, I know it's a fool's errand to try to figure out the logic here, but ...
1. If a giant octopus were laying waste to an American city, I'd like to think the powers that be would do more than let Bo Hopkins handle it solo with his pet whales.
2. How could radio waves above sea level (and sometimes far inland) trigger the attacks?
3. What was that Uncle Sam guy doing at the boat race?! He's telling incoherent, ethnic jokes like some obnoxious drunk at a bar and the crowd is just applauding all the way through. And, in an editing choice presumably meant to be ironic but coming off as bizarre, we see this crowd laughing and clapping interspersed with scenes of the children being attacked by the octopus.
4. One character says, "I thought octopus where shy." To which Bo replies that this one is, well, mad.
Worst moment: some guy (not the coast guard) has saved a bunch of kids being attacked by the octopus during a boat race, and clearly some didn't make it back. The idiot sheriff asks, "Are sure there weren't any others?" and the guy just shrugs. End of rescue mission.
Most surreal moments: seeing John Huston in a muumuu, and Shelley Winters making a pee joke.
If I've made this sound like campy fun, then I've sorely misrepresented this movie...