Friday, December 5, 2008

Momma's Man (Rhoades)

‘Mamma’s Man’ Is Daddy’s Boy

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

What happens when you grow up but don’t want to leave home? That’s the question posed by “Mamma’s Man” – the new dramedy that opens today at the Tropic Cinema.

Mikey (subtly played by Matt Boren) has a wife and kid, but he’d rather retreat to the psychological safety of his parent’s loft apartment. Visiting his folks in New York, he makes up a flimsy excuse to stay on (and on and on), ignoring the plaintive phone messages from his wife in California as he reconnects with old toys, comic books, letters, and other reminders of his childhood.

Eventually, he finds himself unable to leave the apartment. Walking down the steps, abandoning the comforts of a long-ago childhood, is just too painful to contemplate. He makes up excuses to delay his return to his adult existence, even inventing an affair to explain his absence to his wife.

His mom feeds him cereal and tells him to stay as long as he likes. His dad worries that there’s a problem in his son’s marriage. But the problem is Mikey’s alone.

Writer-director Azazel Jacobs filmed “Mamma’s Man” in the actual New York apartment on Chambers Street where he grew up. And Mikey’s parents are played by Jacobs’ real-life parents.

Starts to sound a tad autobiographical, doesn’t it?

Jacobs admits to some similarities with his own life. “It stemmed from just being at my folks’ house and waking up and finding coffee and breakfast waiting for me and thinking, ‘Why did I leave this place?’ And I went home and started writing.”

This is the kind of film you’d have expected to see from, say, John Cassavetes. A personal, introspective look at the familiar, and an examination of the secret feelings that lurk just beneath the surface of our psyche.

The theme is similar to “Full Grown Men,” a film by David Munro that recently played at the Tropic. Over dinner at Key West’s Raw Bar, Munro told me his film was based on his own feelings of hanging on to childhood.

But Azazel’s influence for “Mamma’s Man” more likely came from his dad, who is legendary experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs. “I love his work, and I wanted to be part of it,” the son says. “It’s my way of kind of attaching myself to what he’s doing and trying to figure out how it can fit into my world.”

Some moviegoers describe the film as poignant and honest. Others see the character as pathological and pathetic. Both are correct.

That means that some people will love it, some will hate it. But then again, life is never just one thing, is it?

[from Solares Hill]

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