Serial Mom (1994)

"Is it menopause?" - Sam Waterston to Kathleen Turner

If memory serves, Kathleen Turner was originally offered the role of the
neurotic nanny in ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES. Joan Cusack took it-- and ran
with it-- and Ms. Turner lent her body heat to less-popular films like
UNDERCOVER BLUES. Judging from her performance in the new comedy SERIAL
MOM, Ms. Turner would've made an admirable addition to the FAMILY.  As
it stands, her portrayal of a Betty Crocker killer is the *only* thing
funny in this rather unfunny film.

Meet Beverly Sutphin (Turner)-- a happy homemaker with a happy home and
a happy family. Dad (Sam Waterston) is a dentist, daughter's (Ricki
Lake) in college, and son (Matthew Lillard) is a high-school-aged
gore-film freak.  They all smile in the sunshine and beam over breakfast
and Mom sends her clan packing with fresh fruit in their lunches. But
once they've left, her countenance cracks and Beverly becomes the
Housewife From Hell.

Her "day" begins with obscene phone calls to a neighborhood woman.  Then
comes a visit to the high school and a suggestion from a teacher that
her son seek therapy. Beverly snaps and, on her way out, calmly runs the
man down with her car. The body count begins as frau Sutphin sets her
sights on everyone from her daughter's impolite boyfriend to a nosy
neighbor who doesn't recycle...

Buyer beware, director John Waters-- two words: PINK FLAMINGOS-- pushes
the "R" rating to the limit. SERIAL MOM is an omnibus of gross-out gags
and *nothing* is sacred in these Waters. You can imagine the director's
glee in letting his players play with everything from fresh phlegm to
eviscerated internal organs.  Yum yum.

Very black it is, very funny it ain't.  SERIAL MOM covers familiar
ground with yet another satirical slam on white-bread America. Heck, we
saw it only last week in Michael Ritchie's less-daring but far-funnier
COPS AND ROBBERSONS. Plastic America is a tired cliche. Period.

SERIAL MOM also targets the current craze of courtroom celebrities. But
let's face it, we've already *had* our laughs at Lorena Bobbitt and
Tonya Harding and Menendez and Mendendez. How can the film's mildly
amusing trial sequence ever *hope* to compete with Letterman or Leno on
a good night?

Equally distressing is the missing climax. SERIAL MOM ends abruptly and
without anything resembling a "big finish." Too bad.

Kathleen Turner is a stitch as June-Cleaver-with-a-cleaver and her manic
mood changes are the lifeblood of SERIAL MOM. Turner brings a campy
charm to all of her scenes, including an inspired moment of Hitchcock
homage with Beverly bludgeoning a woman (with a leg of lamb, no less!)
who is watching and singing along to ANNIE. The rest of the cast-- and
the film-- should be so funny.

NOTE:  Watch the end credits such amusing statements as "no flies were
killed or injured in the making of this motion picture."

BOTTOM LINE:  John Waters has completed his merge into mainstream
moviemaking with a killer comedy that's more gross than funny. Kathleen
Turner is great and that's about it.

Grade: C+

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

Home   |   Recommended   |   Reviews   |   Views   |   Letters   |   Links   |   FAQ   |   Search!

Please report problems to
Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros