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2 reviews, 1 rating

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Mama's Boy (2007)
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by William Goss

"The War at Home"
2 stars

Shot with all the flair of the colonoscopy that factors so prominently into its opening minutes, the "new" comedy 'Mama’s Boy' is anything but: a tired rehash of the same protagonist-as-punching-bag fodder as 'The Heartbreak Kid,' 'Good Luck Chuck,' 'Mr. Woodcock,' 'License to Wed,' and 'The Ex' (that makes six duds within six months; take a hint, Hollywood).

And to boot, the lead is played by none other than Jon Heder, he of great range and mighty presence, reduced yet again to playing a sniveling, whiny loser. Within a mere three years, he’s managed to rack up a resume exclusively for the role, most recently with the admittedly amusing School for Scoundrels and Blades of Glory.

This particular series of humiliation scenarios revolves around the 29-year-old Jeffrey (Heder), who has lived at home with his mother (Diane Keaton), afraid to abandon her since his father passed away in one of those tragic car accidents of yore. However, she’d much be alone – alone with her new beau, “success coach” Mert Rosenbloom (Jeff Daniels) – an adjustment that Jeffrey simply won’t stand, even as his own reluctant relationship with corporation-booing coffee jockey/songstress Nora (Anna Faris) begins to bloom.

It doesn’t help that the work by first-time feature director Tim Hamilton and writer Hank Nelken (already topping himself this year with Are We Done Yet?) is tone-deaf, shifting an already humorless farce into distinctly dramatic coming-of-age territory as the inevitable red herrings unfold, a mistake in judgment all but solidified by the casting of Heder as perhaps his most irrational and immature character to date, making him that much harder to root for once he, yes, wises up.

The best that can be said for Keaton is that she’s nowhere near as agitating as she was in last February’s Because I Said So – Heder balks more than she frets – and Daniels does try to make the most of his perpetual nice guy, who has a secret (natch) but no real edge or snap once the geek hits the fan. Meanwhile, the comedically gifted Faris lounges about in a role that gives her precious little else to do besides sing a little song and smoke a little pot, with the latter only bringing to mind the notion of Jeffrey meeting Faris’ stoner from Smiley Face. It might’ve helped explain why she tolerates such a dweeb, and maybe why an audience would as well.

Along the periphery remains one Eli Wallach, an acting veteran of over 50 years, a character actor of considerable talent, and the inadvertent sidekick to Jeffrey’s third-act make-things-right shenanigans. It’s he who gets what is arguably the film’s funniest line, albeit one more suited to the likes of a Happy Madison production, but it only serves to remind me that all I really want for Christmas is for the man to have a steadier sense of income to match his integrity, so as to no longer suffer such roles.

Barely made and barely sold, this sure-thing spawn of a pitch meeting long ago has now found itself dumped upon a handful of screens, including our own market – here's to small miracles – and the result is indeed as sorely lacking in laughs as all of that pedigree would indicate. One would actually be best off taking a cue from the titular character himself and simply staying at home.

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originally posted: 11/30/07 22:44:54
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User Comments

11/01/08 Shaun Wallner Very Boring! 1 stars
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  30-Nov-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-Jun-2008



Directed by
  Tim Hamilton

Written by
  Hank Nelken

  Jon Heder
  Diane Keaton
  Jeff Daniels
  Anna Faris
  Eli Wallach

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