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Serial Mom (1994)

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A sweet mother finds herself participating in homicidal activities when she sees the occasion call for it.

Director:

John Waters

Writer:

John Waters
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kathleen Turner ... Mom
Sam Waterston ... Dad
Ricki Lake ... Misty
Matthew Lillard ... Chip
Scott Morgan Scott Morgan ... Detective Pike (as Scott Wesley Morgan)
Walt MacPherson Walt MacPherson ... Detective Gracey
Justin Whalin ... Scotty
Patricia Dunnock Patricia Dunnock ... Birdie
Lonnie Horsey Lonnie Horsey ... Carl
Mink Stole ... Dottie Hinkle
Mary Jo Catlett ... Rosemary Ackerman
John Badila John Badila ... Mr. Stubbins
Kathy Fannon Kathy Fannon ... Betty Sterner
Doug Roberts ... Ralph Sterner
Traci Lords ... Carl's Date
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Storyline

A picture perfect middle class family is shocked when they find out that one of their neighbors is receiving obscene phone calls. The mom takes slights against her family very personally, and it turns out she is indeed the one harassing the neighbor. As other slights befall her beloved family, the body count begins to increase, and the police get closer to the truth, threatening the family's picture perfect world. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Every Mom Wants to Be Wanted, But Not For Murder One! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for satirical presentation of strong violence, vulgar language, and sexual episodes | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 April 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Los asesinatos de mamá See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$7,881,335
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The video store in the film is John Waters' actual local video store. See more »

Goofs

When Mrs. Sutphin arrives at her son's school to meet his teacher, the time is given as 3:36 pm. Very soon after, she takes her seat in the hall and is invited almost immediately into the classroom, where the clock reads 4:10 pm. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Eugene Sutphin: That's a nice dress you're wearing this morning, Misty.
Misty Sutphin: Thanks.
See more »

Crazy Credits

No flies were injured or killed in the making of this motion picture. See more »

Connections

References Bride of Frankenstein (1935) See more »

Soundtracks

Daybreak
Written by Barry Manilow and Adrienne Anderson
Performed by Barry Manilow
Courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Murders, Wipes and Pussy Willows
26 February 2003 | by SanTropez_CouchSee all my reviews

This is my first John Waters film and I think I've got a good handle on his style of filmmaking. He's a sort of campy, joyful and irreverent filmmaker. He's not too much of a serious artist -- at least not from what I can tell here -- but he's a heck of an entertainer. He is, well, a master of schlock. He's nowhere near as creative as the Coen brothers and not as uproariously funny as the Farrelly brothers, but we're almost in a state of awe watching the movie, smiling, but wondering if we should be when an overly-sweet, caring mother beats a woman to death with a leg of lamb. Thing is, it never seems bad -- it's not even morally reprehensible the way Waters shows it. It's like when you've just watched a gag in extremely poor taste done pleasantly with such giddy amusement that you just shake your head and say, "That is just wrong!"

Kathleen Turner plays the mother who, underneath her thin veil of perfect mother normalcy, has a latent desire to murder those who offend her sensibilities. Sam Waterston plays her husband, a good-natured dentist who stands by his wife as long as he can. It's an interesting pairing of Sam Waterston and Kathleen Turner, two actors blessed with raspy, gasping voices. Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard play the two's children. Lake, the daughter in search of a boyfriend, is the first to suspect her mother's dark side and Lillard, the son with a love for classic gore horror movies, is interested when he's told his mother may be a killer.

It's sort of like a David Lynch movie, if you were to focus only on the "gee whiz" part of America and replace all of Lynch's darkness with campy situations, like a punk rock band called Camel Lips.

A lot of the dialogue and the satirical jabs were pretty obvious, but I wasn't quite sure whether this was just unsubtle comedy or if the joke was in how obvious some of the stuff was ("I made a killing!).

The acting by Turner reminded me of Annette Bening's in "American Beauty," but demented instead of one-note. All the leads are fine, but the big chuckles come from the supporting players like Mink Stole as poor Dottie Hinkle, the victim of a crank caller. Or Patricia Hearst, as a juror who's not in tune with what Turner sees as a fashion faux pas.

I had a big smile plastered on my face for about the first half-hour, which is the best part of the movie, and while the last half-hour loses some steam, it's still a joy to watch Turner and especially Mink Stole. It's not really a criticism, though -- most movies start with a great premise and have trouble resolving it. It's not so much that there's no satisfying resolution, it's that some of the more shocking moments come in the beginning and middle of the film.

The best way I can think to describe the movie is that it exists in a realistic place populated by unrealistic characters. It's a satirical, farcical black comedy that, despite its gruesome murders, is perpetually cheery and without a trace of mean-spiritedness. (Any modern movie that still uses wipes for editing...) With no pun intended (well, maybe some), it's a movie definition of "queer."

I think I'll have to go look for "Cry-Baby" and "Hairspray" now. And if I can find it (and be able to stomach it), I probably owe it to myself to see "Pink Flamingos," which may help me understand the "filth" label Waters is often given. This movie isn't filthy or vile; I had a good time and it's a nice break to see a movie as demented as this and not feel as if you were just subjected to watching a director stomp on someone already on the ground.

***


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