Mother's Day is bittersweet for me because my own mother passed away 11 years ago. In recent times, though, the sweet far outweighs the bitter, because I have wonderful memories of our time together watching -- and loving -- movies. When I'd come home from school in the afternoon, we'd talk and watch old movies on a tiny, black and white TV. When everyone else in my family thought I was crazy for waiting in line for hours to see Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, she told me about waiting in line for hours as a young teen to see Gone With the Wind. When she was dying of cancer and I visited for a couple of weeks from out of state, we spent hours watching old movies together.
In honor of all of our mothers, I've compiled a list of seven of the most awesomest movie moms. But this isn't a competition; it's just a list, and it's just a highly personal reflection of my own thoughts, so please feel free to share your favorite, most awesome movie moms in the comments.
As Elisabeth Rappe rhapsodized recently, "the charm of the movie is that her psychotic nature is buried within a happy-go-lucky mom who enjoys baking muffins and wearing ugly Christmas sweaters." Home-made muffins are nice and all, but wouldn't it be cool if your mother could assassinate those bullies who keep beating you up after school? Not saying she would, of course, though that would have been a tantalizing prospect for me. Of course, the flip side is that you'd better behave ... or else!
Mary is doing everything within her power to hold her family together, which is pretty awesome. She's warm and nurturing to Gertie and tolerant of Michael and Elliott's antics. And she's still hot enough to draw the attention of teenage boys. She reacts like any mother might when she discovers that her son is harboring an alien from outer space, but I can't fault her for that; she wants to protect her children. Besides, who taught Elliott the values that enabled him to connect with E.T.?
Is Sarah Connor more interested in the survival of the human race or of her son? The lines must have blurred and merged for her at some point before the movie begins. She doesn't want to allow her maternal feelings to blind her to what needs to be done. Any mother that's willing to make that supreme sacrifice, for the greater good of mankind, is awesome.
Even as the children grew up and out of the Murtaugh household, Darlene Love as Trish was there to provide love and stability. There is something very earthy and organic about her presence in the house; she seems like she's always been there, the ideal mother and loving, supportive wife, yet she brooks little nonsense from her children, much less from her husband and Martin Riggs. And she's able to roll with the punches, dealing with an exploding toilet, and ready to make some unexpected Chinese immigrants feel right at home.
Oh, c'mon: she's elastic! If that isn't awesome, I don't know what is. Plus, she loves her husband, loves her children equally, has great confidence in her children's abilities and judgment, yada yada yada. But the main thing: she's elastic!
As a writer, my mother was very supportive of me, which is probably why Elaine Miller strikes such a responsive chord. She trusts her son, William, and allows him to travel away from home on a wild trip that few other mothers would even contemplate. She does have rules, though, and expects him to obey them. The best, most awesome part? Elaine is based on writer / director Cameron Crowe's own mother, Alice.
Among classic movie fans, sentimentalists might argue for Irene Dunne in I Remember Mama, criminals may cite Margaret Wycherly in White Heat, and psychos may pine for Anthony Perkins in Psycho; for me, Bambi's mother remains the measure against which all cinematic mothers are measured, mainly because she was the first mother I saw on the big screen. That's right: when I was six years old, the first movie that I viewed in a real, live theater was a re-release of Bambi, right next to my own mother. By the way, I've never forgiven Walt Disney for what he did to Bambi's awesome mother.