If W.C. FIELDS was known for his reluctance to working with kids and animals, then there should be a list of actors that both child and four-legged performers should avoid at all costs. Based solely on her less than subtle performance in MOMMY, and I do mean that in the nicest was possible, PATTY McCORMACK tops my short list of actors children should not work with. On paper, MOMMY loosely reads like an imaginary sequel to McCORMACK’s most infamous work THE BAD SEED. Imagine if little Rhoda Penmark grew up, spawned a tow-headed daughter, became an alpha-Mom, and left a body count in her wake when said daughter Jessica Ann (the completely overwhelmed and out of her league RACHEL LEMIEUX) is overlooked for student of the year. In actuality though, MOMMY has too much working against it to rightfully be considered the heir apparent to the BAD SEED.
For starters, you know something is terribly wrong with a movie when you can barely hear the lead child actress mumble over the score. The omnipresent music in MOMMY takes on a life of its own and drowns out just about everyone except for McCORMACK who belts out every line like she is performing for the back row in a theatre production. I know the budget on this one was paltry, but surely there was a boom mike on set. Dial it down a notch PATTY! Taking the opposite approach is JASON MILLER (THE EXORCIST’s Father Karras) as the chain-smoking Lieutenant March hot on the heels of our murderous matriarch. Self-aware enough to realize that this vehicle is beneath his esteemed horror pedigree, his boredom is palpable.
Had MOMMY played it for laughs, like JOHN WATERS’ SERIAL MOM, it could be a contender as a camp classic. It features cameos by MAJEL BARRETT, the “First Lady” of STAR TREK and crime writer MICKEY SPILLANE, as well as undisputed B-Queen BRINKE STEVENS as the oddly eye-browed Aunt Beth. Not even this troika, bolstered by MILLER, can wrestle MOMMY away from McCORMACK. It’s ultimately her showcase, albeit a sorely disappointing one. Both she and the legacy of Rhoda Penmark both deserve much better.