Dave's Rating:


In reverse.

There's this YouTube video a friend of mine sent me many months ago, one I keep going back to whenever I feel the need for a fresh dose of insanity. In this video, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, approximately 8 years old, sing a song about all the inappropriate foods they'd love to have on their pizza. Ice cream, candy, stuff like that. The thing about this video, though, is that it's been slowed down to a molasses-like crawl, so that each syllable sounds like it was sung by Sharon Needles on RuPaul's Drag Race after she drank a bottle of codeine cough syrup. As a piece of culture-hacking, it's demented and kind of frightening. It wouldn't be out of place on Tim & Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!. In fact, it wouldn't be out of place in that show's nightmares. And if it entered a contest of "What's More WTF?" with this movie, it would lose.

What is this movie? Is it meant to be heartwarming? Funny? Satirical? Moving? Are mothers and daughters supposed to see it together so they can cluck their tongues in unison and give thanks to whatever they worship that this Bizarro World Gilmore Girls bears no resemblance to their own lives? And that's a rhetorical question, by the way. I don't actually want to encourage any real-life mothers and daughters to suffer through this rock-stupid coming-of-age disaster. It's Mother's Day, after all, and a colonoscopy would be a better way to spend it.

The plot, which loudly announces itself as the plot over and over in a thick-headedly unfunny bit of self-aware structure, involves now-30-something teen mom Grace (Eva Mendes, too good for this) aiming for best-friend status with her brainiac daughter Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez, whose career will recover) but winds up neglecting her instead, working two jobs to support them and creeping around in an ill-considered affair with a married doctor (Matthew Modine, and it's not even a joke like when she played Will Ferrell's wife in The Other Guys).

To rebel, Ansiedad -- whose name very pointedly means "anxiety" in Spanish -- pays the wrong kind of attention in English class as teacher Patricia Arquette presents the tired mechanics of the "coming of age" motif in literature. Armed with a template, Ansiedad sets about to experience her own forced transition from childhood to adulthood so that she can escape her mother. Mind you, Mom's worst crimes involve working a lot, eating the last bowl of cereal and okay, yes, banging a married guy. But the way this film treats her you'd think she was Monique in Precious.

Pile on the following inappropriate pizza toppings: tone-deaf mother/daughter/everyone interactions, jokes about women being beaten by their husbands, robberies and drug overdoses that come out of the blue and are just as quickly forgotten, confusing continuity information about what time of day it is (a scene where Mendes chases Ramirez around town seemingly begins in the morning and ends after the sun goes down), an insistence on the hilarity of the word "retard," an Asian man nicknamed "Lo Mein," and Ansiedad's self-absorbed, cruel involvement with an elderly nursing home patient whose name she can't be bother to learn (real dialogue: "I'm casting you as my sick, dying grandma."). All of this takes place as the movie dares to present the teen sociopath in progress as merely quirky and too smart for her own good. The truth is you'd much rather hang out with the obnoxious brat's mom, no matter how flaky and neglectful she is. She'd at least be nicer to everyone around her and probably let you put ice cream on your pizza. Win-win.


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