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  Momma's Man

Starring: Matt Boren, Flo Jacobs, Ken Jacobs, Richard Edson, Eleanor Hutchins

Directed by: Azazel Jacobs

Produced by: Hunter Gray, Alex Orlovsky

Written by: Azazel Jacobs

Distributor: ThinkFilm


As seen at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival:


     Azazel Jacobs’ Momma’s Man tackles perhaps one of the oddest subjects that a sparse examination of the hurdles faced by the human psyche ever has: the young man who can’t seem to leave his parents’ home. Make no mistake, though: this ain’t your average story about a momma’s boy who has to overcome his fears of separation before leaving the nest for college. In fact, it’s just the opposite, as the title suggests: the protagonist is Mikey (Matt Boren), a thirtysomething-year-old man with a wife and kid. When the viewer first meets Mikey, he has returned to his parents’ Manhattan apartment, supposedly on a business trip from his resident California for a short stay. Days turn into weeks, however, and Mikey can’t find it in himself to leave, meeting up with old friends as his family and job begin to waste away without him. All the while, he makes excuses for his extended stay, which his tolerant father (Ken Jacobs) and over-attached mother (Flo Jacobs)—both in their seventies, mind you—buy until his abandoned wife becomes so desperate she calls them in a rattled state of confusion.

     If the above sounds like a tedious cinematic exercise that goes absolutely nowhere to you, then you’re probably reacting in a rational manner. Jacobs’ screenplay for Momma’s Man likely reeked of indie-filmmaker angst and self-indulgence on paper. But the material transformed in its execution. Anchored by a realistic and painstakingly authentic performance by lead Boren, the movie feels entirely realistic. As Mikey comes to pathologically lie about his reasons for staying in New York, neglecting his home-life and clinging to his mother’s over-accommodating attitude, the experience is immersive and wrenching. I believed in the character and in this very belief I forged a connection with him. Yes, he might be too exaggerated in his internal desperation to identify with and, yes, he might be too much of an idiot to respect, but he earns the viewer’s sympathy nonetheless. Here’s a guy who is suffering from the circumstances of his life and, while he can’t seem to do anything right, it’s evident that he’s smart enough to overcome the reality before him by the picture’s end. Perhaps this very realization is what lends to the empathy he is able to evoke, or perhaps it’s merely the skill that actor Boren exhibits in being able to provide such a realization from a character that is defined almost exclusively by facial expressions and Jacobs’ sparsely (and smartly) written dialogue.

     The fact that Momma’s Man and its protagonist ring so true seems especially remarkable when one considers Jacobs’ motives for creating them. In the Q&A that followed the Los Angeles Film Festival screening of the film I attended, Jacobs extensively discussed the fact that one of his main considerations when writing the script was to use the story as a means to document his childhood apartment home. The apartment, which his parents (who play Mikey’s mom and dad in the movie) still live in, is built upon mounds and mounds of old junk. The walls are literally made of piles and racks of clothes and toys and files and papers and books. The way the place functions as a living, breathing supporting character in the movie is something of a marvel: furthering Mikey’s inability to leave home is the fact that the memories of his youth surround him. In one eerily memorable scene, his mother uses a wire to pull down a ceiling-hoisted PVC-pipe rack on which his childhood clothes hang. Jacobs clearly built his story around a setting – not the other way around. In this very method of creation, the budding filmmaker achieved a thoroughly innovative product, one that bends the traditional rules of cinema in all the ways that a good film should. Dry and existential as its premise may sound when synopsized, Momma’s Man actually proves quite the involving motion picture.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 6.29.2008

Screened on: 6.21.2008 at the Landmark in West Los Angeles, CA.


Momma's Man is Not Rated and runs 94 minutes.

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