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MOVIE REVIEW: Mother and Child

This story goes awry in almost every way

Mother and Child: Rates a D-.
Courtesy photo

If Crash took place at an adoption agency instead of the LAPD, you’d have the movie Mother and Child.

This is the worst movie I’ve seen all year. It’s baffling to see that so many critics are praising it.

The story has three women all dealing with adoption. One (Naomi Watts) is bitter that her mom put her up for adoption. This causes her to focus merely on her job, keeping people at a distance. It also turns her into a nymphomaniac for some reason. I guess she is under the belief that she’s in control with the men in her life.

There’s Annette Bening as the mom that gave her up, and doesn’t spend a day not regretting that decision. It’s her worst performance ever.

Kerry Washington is in the most interesting of the stories – as a woman running a successful bakery and not being able to have children – looking into adoption. We can tell her husband isn’t so keen on the idea.

Of course, when we first see this couple having sex, we have to see movie cliché #13, which is – if you own an answering machine, it will interrupt whatever you’re doing. I’ve seen so many movies that do this, it makes me wonder if I’m the only person that has an answering machine in my living room and not the bedroom. Or wonder why other people don’t have the volume on it down, so guests in your house don’t hear messages that people leave when you aren’t quick enough to answer the phone.

A more frustrating scene happens a bit later, when Shareeka Epps (who I loved in Half Nelson), playing a pregnant teen that wants to approve the family that adopts her kid – is so mean and annoying, I have a hard time believing the couple would stay and listen to her snotty attitude. Especially when she tells them she wants to be able to name the baby (the nun earlier tells the couple that is common; I know nothing about adoption, but I’m guessing it’s not common).

The movie is also the most predictable of anything you’ll see all year.

I was surprised the blind girl on top of the roof, spouting off bits of wisdom to Watts, didn’t have one last scene where she saves everyone (or that she doesn’t call someone “grasshopper”).

The men in this movie are also poorly written characters. We see David Morse in a small role. He plays a former lover of Bening, who I’m guessing, is the one that got her pregnant when she was 14. The movie isn’t clear on that, though.

Jimmy Smits uses a thick Spanish accent, and plays a nice guy that isn’t believable. He tries to pick up on Bening at work (they’re physical therapists), but the first five times they talk, she snaps at him. One of those times, because he left a bag of tomatoes from his garden, on her locker. Another time, they have coffee together and she sends it back because it’s cold (which surprises Smits, since his coffee was just fine). It makes you wonder why he would continue to pursue a woman that is the meanest female character I’ve ever seen on the screen. She makes Nurse Ratched look like Mother Theresa.

But wait…let’s get some more movie clichés in here. After accusing her maids daughter of stealing a necklace and calling her a “little thief” for taking an Oreo, she all of the sudden becomes this wonderful woman, for reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me.

Yes, she still grieves for the daughter she gave up and wonders about.

We wonder if she’d be proud, knowing that daughter is quickly moving up the law firm, and is practically raping her boss, played by Samuel Jackson.

His character is the one that is well written, and very well acted. Every scene he has with Watts is a joy to watch.

The strangest thing is that this movie didn’t move me in the least. And I’m a guy that cries at commercials. I start to tear up when I hear a newborn baby crying and see the joy and sweat on the mothers face.

The first scene with the blind girl on the roof is interesting. They didn’t make her too smart or precocious.

There’s a scene where Jackson breaks things off with Watts that is good.

Another scene I almost liked involved a man wanting to have a son with his wife. The problem is, bad writers have a way of making interesting scenarios uninteresting.

Some scenes I didn’t even understand.

When a meeting at an adoption agency goes bad, the wife goes from screaming at her husband in the car, to “touching him” and asking “Do you like that? Does that feel good?” I’m not even sure what that was even about.

I don’t know if these women just needed to be more engaging for this to be enjoyable, or if the stories just had to be more believable. I don’t even care that the writer/director was being so manipulative with all of it. It bothers me that 90 percentof it didn’t work.

Would an adoption agency really misplace some info that would’ve helped two of the main characters? Would Smits ever have fallen for such a mean woman? Would Watts refuse a huge promotion that Jackson offers her, simply because she didn’t feel she earned it? She spends the whole first part of the movie chewing up and spitting out everyone in her path, and relishing the fact that everyone she’s worked with hates her. So why at this point is she worried about her co-workers not thinking she earned the promotion?

This whole film is maudlin garbage that gives “chick flicks” a bad name.

These are the types of stories that get made fun of when they’re in soap operas on TV, so why are critics praising it on the big screen?

I spent a few minutes wondering what Warren Beatty would tell Bening about this. Will he ask her why she didn’t have some soft focus that he used in Love Affair to look younger? Will he pretend he actually liked this piece of crap because he’s married to her?

I wouldn’t have minded that actors I love – David Morse, Elizabeth Pena, and Amy Brenneman -- had such small parts, if the main characters would’ve been written better.

I’m afraid this movie (ready for the best/worst pun of the year?)…just doesn’t deliver.

It gets a D-.