"Mama's Boy" DVD Review
June 02, 2008 by Zach Demeter
Despite flying onto the scene with Napoleon Dynamite, Jon Heder has yet to really land a role that separates him from the character that made him famous. It doesnít help that the roles heís cast in are usually a repeat or a slightly tweaked variant of the same loner we saw in Napoleon, but that doesnít change that fact that no matter which role Heder seems to take up, heís playing the same kind of reclusive individual wherever he goes and while Mamaís Boy attempts to thrust a bit more courage into the concept, it still falls into the same category as Hederís other roles.
Mamaís Boy, starring Jon Heder, Diane Keaton, Jeff Daniels and Anna Faris, revolves around twenty-nine year old Jeffrey Mannus (Heder) and his mother Jan (Keaton) and their ever continuing relationship. With Jeffreyís father dying when he was young, mother and son bonded over the years and they found it difficult to break their religious Scrabble and putt-putt nights until Jan begins to become interested in another man: Mert Rosenbloom (Daniels). While Jeffrey attempts to sabotage his motherís new relationship at every turn, Jeffrey ends up finding a love of his own in songwriter Nora (Anna Faris).
The trailers for Mamaís Boy make the film appear much more juvenile than it actually is. In reality itís a mix of Failure to Launch, Mr. Woodcock and a sampling of License to Wed. The filmís elements arenít original in the least and thatís where it ultimately fails; itís nothing original and if youíve seen any of the above films the concept will feel all too familiar to you. Heder and crew do their best at an original picture, but taking elements from two rather mediocre excuses for films (Failure to Launch, Mr. Woodcock) and adding a bit more humor to it still makes it uninteresting to watch. Itís not the fact it imitates something else in the same genre (how could it not? Original films are truly difficult to come by nowadays.), but it imitates a poor romantic comedy and absolutely abysmal comedy to boot.
Iím actually rather disappointed that Warner seemed to bank more on Hederís goofy character angle rather than the rest of the films aspects, as it really would have been sold as a stronger film. Heder actually tears away from the Napoleon angle a bit here, being more aggressive while asking Farisís character out and overall really not filling the ďsocially distantĒ stereotype at all. One of the stranger elements of the film is Hederís character playing with a group of Dungeon and Dragons type characters that are in full dress up. In the trailer this made sense but in the grand scheme of the film it doesnít; we never see those characters again, even when Hederís character is later looking for a place to stay. Itís all a very strange sceneÖfunny, but very strange and actually something thatís not too becoming of Hederís character in this film at all.
Keaton plays a rather air-headed mother while Daniels role is perhaps one of the funnest in the film. Heís a genuinely likeable guy but his efforts in attempting to match and beat Heder at his own game, turning lies that Heder spills into things that would benefit Daniels relationship with Keaton. Itís a really well played relationship between all of the characters in the film and had this film been made before so many other dismal efforts, it likely wouldnít have come off as such a dull affair.
First time director Tim Hamilton does a fair job with the directing on the film and quite honestly I think it was his hand that helped steady the picture from becoming a complete joke and waste of time. He seemed determined to prove he could do a good job on this film and because of that you, as a viewer, are left feeling a mix of boredom with the monotony of the picture and pleasure that it feels ever so slightly different than the others.
Overall Mamaís Boy doesnít mix anything new into the old-son-attached-to-mother angle, but if youíve found enjoyment in that type of picture in the past, then Mamaís Boy might be a nice change of pace. Hederís character manages to be unique enough that he doesnít feel like a complete repeat of past characters in other movies and each of the relationships in the film, whether itís the one between Keaton and Daniels or Heder and Faris, feel genuine and not forced in the least. In the end the film is just ďall rightĒ and that makes it worth a Rental at least. I initially suspected Iíd be telling people to avoid this title, but if the cast or synopsis interests you, you might just be in for a bit of a surprise.
Mamaís Boy arrives on DVD in a standard DVD amaray case without any inserts or slipcovers. The DVD itself is a flipper (Oh, how I hate you stupid little discs) with the fullscreen presentation on one side and a widescreen presentation on the other. Menus are static and simple in navigation (what there is to navigate around to, anyway). The video on the release, despite being a recent film, is quite horrible looking. Thereís no detail to the image and the whole affair looks completely fuzzy; tons of grain and general noise is abundant throughout the film, making for a very ugly presentation overall. The audio is the discs only strong point, coming in a fair 5.1 mix that remains front-channel focused, but clean and clear all the way through.
There are few extras to check out here. The first is a full-length commentary with director Tim Hamilton, which is another one of the ďfor all of you aspiring directorsĒ type commentary tracks out there. Itís a decent effort, with Hamilton pointing out tricks he learned over the years and what he employed in this film. Itís a rather dry track and unless you absolutely loved the film or are indeed an aspiring director, then you probably will want to skip this track. Itís not loaded with fun facts and Hamilton frequently goes silent, making for random and awkward periods of silence. Still, itís nice that they at least included a commentary on this releaseóconsidering Warner doesnít even do that for some of its biggest releases.
The only other extra for viewing is a set of additional scenes (6:17) which are presented in widescreen inside of a 4:3 frame. Like the film this release is a strict Rental only, especially with its high MSRP (as of this writing this title was going for $24.99 on Amazonóquite outrageous).
Mama's Boy arrives on DVD on June 3rd.