CATEGORIES Independent, Sundance, Theatrical Reviews, Cinematical Indie, Reviews, Sundance Film Festival, Cinematical
For the first half or so of Momma's Man, I wasn't sure I was going to like the film all that much. It is about a guy named Mikey, who, while on a holiday trip to visit his parents in New York, decides not to return home to his wife and infant daughter. Admittedly, my tolerance for watching another "man who can't or won't grow up" film is fairly low, but I'd heard such good things about this film that I decided to stick it out, and I'm glad I did.
Mikey (Matt Boren) goes home to NYC to visit his parents, but when it's time to go, he inexplicably turns around on his way to the airport and returns to his parents' apartment. He tells his folks and his wife that there were issues with his flight, and settles back in, saying he just wants to stay another day, maybe two. And then the days stretch out, and Mikey makes more and more excuses for not going home.
He doesn't really make a decision to abandon his family, so much as he just retreats back into his childhood, cocooning himself among boxes of childhood memories and the comfort of his mother doting on him. As he sifts through boxes of keepsakes -- a letter from a high school girlfriend, telling him what a jerk he was, his guitar and notebook of really bad song lyrics, a Rubik's Snake -- he starts to sink into a state of stasis, finally shutting off his cell phone to avoid his wife's phone calls asking when he's coming home. His mother is glad to have her son around, but his father grows increasingly suspicious about why Mikey doesn't want to go home.
The strength of this film lies largely in Boren's capturing of Mikey's sense of confusion and helplessness. He doesn't even seem to know why he's staying, or what he's avoiding going home to, but the longer his visit drags on, the more he sinks into a deep depression, to the point that he finds it difficult to even leave his parents' apartment. As Mikey's parents, Flo Jacobs and Ken Jacobs hit all the right notes of a mixed concern for their son's well-being and a desire to help him figure out what's going on.
Writer/director Azazel Jacobs has written a compelling script about one man's coming to terms with life and mortality -- his own and his parents -- and letting go of the past. Jacobs, whose real-life parents play Mikey's parents, shot the film in their loft apartment. The film drags at times, and watching Boren take Mikey further and further into a state of absolute immobility is difficult to watch, but his performance is so spot-on that you can't help but be drawn into figuring out what's going on with him.
The key moment of the film that brings everything together is a beautifully done scene near the very end. I don't want to give it away, because when the moment comes it's an emotional revelation that makes everything in the rest of the film come together.