Never grow up

Momma's Man is a welcome portrait of the artist as a thumb-sucker

REVIEW Azazel Jacobs' portrait of the artist as a regressive thumb-sucker is a welcome antidote to Hollywood's inane home-for-the-holidays pictures. Jacobs' counterculture parents, the experimental filmmaker Ken and his painter wife Flo, were sporting enough to play Ma and Dad to Mikey (Matt Boren). The slouchy 30-something purposefully misses his flight back to wife and baby in New York, and lands back in the family nest in a deep funk. Momma's Man's delicious comedy derives from Mikey's fruitless conquests of the past: playing through a notebook's worth of high school breakup songs, reading comic books, and, memorably, propping up in bed with his parents to watch Monsieur Verdoux (1947). The mother-son bond veers toward Portnoy's Complaint territory when Momma Flo won't stop asking if Mikey needs anything from the other side of a bathroom door, but elsewhere her gentle prodding strikes just the right homey notes. And after Mikey uses his parents' aging as a cover for his own semi-consciousness, her final, wordless embrace of her son is enough to make you want to call home. Momma's Man is a bleary-eyed nostalgia trip, mindful of the precarious limbo of post-adolescent reflexivity. As Mikey spins out in his black hole of comfort and culture, it becomes clear that Momma's Man is a goodbye not just to childhood, but to the last echoes of bohemian New York. 

MOMMA'S MAN opens Fri/24 in Bay Area theaters.

Also from this author

  • Rites of passage

    Three consecutive Sundays of Nathaniel Dorsky's resplendent films at the Pacific Film Archive

  • Light meter

    Top picks from San Francisco Cinematheque's third 'Crossroads' festival

  • How dark was my alley

    Flick-packed Film Noir fest "I Wake up Dreaming" returns to the Roxie

  • Also in this section

  • Flynn and out

    Hollywood-scandal tale 'The Last of Robin Hood' comes up short

  • High fly

    A baseball legend comes to life in 'No No: A Dockumentary'

  • Cruel stories of youth

    'Rich Hill' and 'Me and You' offer very different (but equally compelling) coming-of-age tales