Momma's Man

"Excellent"

Momma's Man Review


The utterance of the name "Ken Jacobs" might not set off alarms in the casual movie fan's psyche, but to any admirer of the avant garde (or survivor of 1960s Manhattan), you might as well be taking the lord's name in vein. Known for cinema collages that mix all varieties and manners of aesthetic manipulation and filmic language, Jacobs came about as a ravenous collector of cultural rarities around the same time Jack Smith and Andy Warhol ruled the NY art scene with a powder-white fist. Earlier this year the filmmaker released Razzle Dazzle, a manipulated study of repetition that I first saw at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival, but he's most known for spectacles like Blonde Cobra, The Georgetown Loop, and Star Spangled to Death, the experimental cinema equivalent of Gravity's Rainbow.

The quintessential New York lunatic who ended up teaching film studies in Binghamton, Jacobs appears on screen as the pater familias of a son who can't leave his childhood home in downtown Manhattan in Momma's Man, the third feature by the filmmaker's son Azazel Jacobs. Both metaphorically and literally a womb, the elder Jacobs' oddity of an apartment serves as the setting where Mikey (Matt Boren) arrives to visit his parents (Jacobs and mother Flo) for a weekend in their old school art space in Tribeca, where he spent his formative years.

What begins as a forward retreat back to his wife Laura (Dana Varon) and newborn child back in Los Angeles turns into an obsessive overstay as Matt begins to dig through his old comic books, toys, and clothing, taking in long bouts of sleeping in between. A bizarre encounter with an old friend and trips to famous ultra-dive bar The Patriot mark his only connection with the outside world save brief spats with his wife. The awkward peak comes when he meets up with an old high school flame at a coffee shop to apologize for a long-forgotten incident.

One of the highlights of both this year's Sundance Film Festival and New York's New Directors/New Films Festival, Momma's Man eludes convention at almost every turn. The reasoning behind his prolonged absence from his family and life is never fully discussed. Matt's mother passive-aggressively nudges him towards his wife while his father takes the direct approach, asking him often why he's still there. Matt possesses an index of excuses for his job, his wife, and his parents but the absence of easy reasoning to his residency gives Jacobs' film a subtle hint of terror.

Boren plays his character with a sluggish obnoxiousness, a pig's sensibility and a strange streak of naïveté. He's a comic horror but he's oddly endearing. Matt could be any number of things: the great embodiment of the baby boomers, the whining, sniveling child that all men are at the end of the day, maybe even the zombie prince of Giuliani's spic-and-span New York. That the director never plays towards his metaphors shows maturity and assurance as a filmmaker. It reveals young Mr. Jacobs as a born storyteller rather than a bag full of ideologies.

Perhaps Azazel isn't the mad scientist his father is, but one thing becomes clear after Momma's Man: It's in the blood. Shooting in scratchy 35mm conjures up the ghosts of '60s cinema, when his father was coming up, and to say that there isn't an autobiographical bent to this film would be foolish. Past that, surrounded by pulley systems for clothes lines, rusted wind-up toys, collections of useless tools and playthings, kitchenware from every decade, and two loopy artist parents lies the rejected east coaster on holiday from being an Angeleno. In his simple, minimalist way, Mr. Jacobs has fashioned the quintessential interior New York film.

It's time for you to get your own room, son.



Momma's Man

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th May 2009

Distributed by: Kino International

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Azazel Jacobs

Producer: Hunter Gray, Alex Orlovsky

Starring: Matt Boren as Mikey, Flo Jacobs as Mom, Ken Jacobs as Dad

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.