“You wouldn’t like it,” my son informed me when I asked him how he enjoyed the movie he’d just seen.
I didn’t argue since I haven’t liked a movie since approximately 1980, but nonetheless I inquired as to why he didn’t think I’d like it.
“It’s one of those movies where they kill the mom.”
My son knows me very well: I wouldn’t like it. I hate movies where they kill the mom, often before the opening credits thus saving the producers the expense of hiring someone to portray Mom, humble maker of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and all-around keeper of hearth and home. Instead they let the audience know Mom is no longer in the picture with a vague reference to her being “gone” and that’s it. They don’t even have a photo of the poor woman on the mantle.
Hollywood loves to kill the mom. Mom’s been getting knocked off forever in La La Land ever since Shirley Temple was a wee thing patiently waiting for her mommy to come home with a birthday cake so little Curly Top’s party could begin. That was when the camera cut to Mom attempting to cross a busy street while clutching a square white bakery box, followed by a close up of the squashed box while sirens wailed in the background. That birthday party was permanently cancelled and the Good Ship Lollipop was going to have to sail on its own.
And then there’s Bambi…how many millions of kids were traumatized by that murder? Bambi’s mom alone had to cost the deer rifle industry a fortune.
Getting rid of mom is Hollywood’s version of a sure thing, the dramatic loaded dice device guaranteed to get the audience on the side of the grieving dad (who is invariably flat-stomached, has a head of hair Bill Clinton would envy and a chick magnet extraordinaire, even though he usually has far too many children and doesn’t seem to work for a living) as well as a way to make the kids seem less obnoxious, kids who now must bond with the new woman who has replaced Boring Old Mom (which the little traitors do immediately).
As one of those Boring Old Moms, I wish Hollywood writers would come up with a new twist on why mom is no longer in the picture. Perhaps she could skip town with someone she met at the Department of Motor Vehicles when she stopped in to pick up new tags for her car, a Sam Elliott lookalike who has a tank full of gas, a wallet full of credit cards and a yen for middle-aged women.
Or maybe Mom simply needed a megadose of “me” time. Like ten years.
Just once I’d like to see a movie where the dad dies or vanishes for a change and the mom gets together with the guy who comes over to fix the garbage disposal. I wouldn’t care if the garbage disposal guy was short, dumpy and had a cigar permanently attached to his lower lip. I simply want to see a movie with a mom in it. An older (which in Hollywood means over 30) mom, please, and not Meryl Streep. I’m starting to think that woman owns southern California. Come to think of it, Meryl’s the exception that proves the rule when it comes to killing the mom off. She never gets whacked.
Another variation on the grieving widower would be to have a movie where a married couple actually stayed together because they liked each other and wanted to stay married. So many couples in the movies seem to stick together because they’re victims of a little known tax code that forces them to live together until one of their deaths do they part, and we all know whose death that’s going to be.
I know, I’m a full-time dreamer. I’m also know I’m never going to have a career as a Hollywood screenwriter because my ideas would be about as popular as Oscar Meyer at a vegan convention. What I am is a middle-aged, boring mom desperately seeking a Saturday date night at the movies.
I ask you: where is Sam Elliot when you really need him?