Sunday, March 7, 2021

90's Watch: Serial Mom (1994)

Watched:  03/07/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  Third (so Jamie tells me)
Decade:  1990's
Director:  John Waters

In ye olde yesteryear of my first year of college, sometimes movie companies would bring films to campus before they were released and we'd see them for free.  I assume it was "word of mouth" programming, and/ or gave the marketing people some idea of how everything was about to go down, based on reaction.

My memory is that we all went apeshit for this movie.  It was new John Waters!  It had KATHLEEN TURNER!  It was sending up America's serial killer craze and the way things were covered in the media.*  

Jamie also tells me we watched it together, and I think I vaguely remember that from our early days of dating.  

Anyway, revisiting the movie 27 years later, it's aged oddly.  Not everything feels as sharp as it did at the time in the satire of suburban culture, but other parts feel just as fresh as they ever did.  Maybe not the least is the very end (SPOILERS) where, oh, shit, it turns out that person who skated through the real courts and the court of public opinion really is the nutjob they were accused of being. (END SPOILERS).  

Turner is *fantastic* in this movie.  She doesn't have to carry it - everyone is doing their part - but she's very funny, until she turns it up about halfway through, and then she's hysterical.  Turner was about 40 when this movie arrived (hair done to give her just the right slightly older look), and I have no doubt lots of "mom" roles were piling up for her as options.  If she was going to play a mom, this seems like the way to go.

The movie also features Sam Waterston as her husband, an unknown Matt Lillard as their son and Ricki Lake doing the most to make this feel like a John Waters movie as the daughter.  Justin Whalin (one of the Jimmy's from Lois & Clark) plays a pal, and Mink Stole appears as a neighbor.  And, famously, both Suzanne Somers and Patricia Hearts appear, as well as "I've gone legit" Traci Lords.  

The movie is rated-R for some gore, violence, language and nudity.  It's John Waters - I don't know what you expected.  Anyway - it's still very funny.  And, it's why, to this day, under my breath I still mutter "fuckin' Don Knotts...  he's the coolest" under my breath whenever Knotts appears on screen.

*I'm pretty sure the Tanya Harding thing was happening around the same time, so, really, between that and Jon Benet Ramsey, this feels soft on the media of the mid-90's.  

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