Mommie Dearest (1981) (R)















Frank Perry's movie "Mommie Dearest" attempts to retell the life of the neurotic and psychotic Joan Crawford, the Oscar winning actress and scum of the earth.
If the movie was trying to do anything but make us hate Joan Crawford then it failed miserably and should be burned at the stake. If hatred was intended, then congratulations...now let's burn it at the stake.
Faye Dunaway plays the actress and is incredibly imposing as the glamorous star. She lives her life in opulence, for instance her shower has three shower heads instead of the conventional solitary one. Near the peak of her career, she decides (for whatever reason) that she wants a baby. Unable to conceive and deliver one of her own she applies for adoption and promptly gets rejected. A single mother with two divorces, they are not likely to give a baby to the busy woman. But her lover is a lawyer and he's able to manipulate the legal system in order to procure her a progeny.
So how does motherhood agree with Joan?
Well, she's pretty far down on the maternal greatness scale. This obsessed woman (on a side note, we are never told what makes her so crazy) abuses her daughter and her son (yeah, for some reason they gave her another baby) in cruel ways which I will now catalogue for you in order to convince you to watch something else.
When her daughter, Christina, doesn't want to eat rare steak, Joan makes her sit at the table for hours and then keeps the rotting meal around for another day and starves her daughter until the meal is eaten which it never is. Then she finds a wire hanger in her daughter's closet and freakin' looses it! She rips Christina from the bed during the night and beats the crap out of her with the hanger while screaming an incoherent stream of crying and cursing....thanks, mom, now I have to have therapy for the rest of my life. After the beating is done she waddles into the bathroom and "sees some spots on the tile". Livid, she returns to Christina and demands to know if she scrubbed her bathroom that morning. The girl answers yes and the bathroom is immaculate—yet again, Joan looses it. She scatters the contents of a soap box all over the room simultaneously beating Christina with the box and then walks out of the room. This scene doesn't get any better because of the night cream smeared all over her face—it makes her looks like a female version of the Joker from "The Dark Knight".
And that's not even the worst of it! Oh no...
When Christina kisses a boy at school Joan brings her home and (while a reporter is in the house) attacks her and tries to choke her to death! Yeah...great parenting there.
I don't understand the point of this movie, it doesn't make any sense.
Actually, the beatings and the abuse were the most watchable parts of the movie [don't judge me for saying that]. After Christina grows up, she becomes the most mellow person imaginable. Diana Scarwid as Christina Crawford is unequivocally dull and dry and her character doesn't make sense.
After the strangulation she still loves her mom and has some really bizarre form of "mommie issues". I felt like the screenplay has five sections missing because we time jump around and don't have enough emotional buildup for any of the intense scenes to work.
It seems that the point of the movie is that children need to have a father or else mom is going to go crazy and beat you to a bloody pulp. Joan and her lover talk about children in the beginning of the movie and he mentions that children need a father. This is what I think the movie is subtly trying to convey. It becomes less and less about Miss Crawford (I don't really believe the movie because of the over-the-topd performances) and more about parenting. And what a parenting nightmare this is!
Although Faye Dunaway is great as a freakin' crazy lady, it's the movie that really bombs. If this had been a horror movie, it might have worked.
Oh, this movie also has quite a stupid ending.
It's really not enjoyable in any fashion. If it was half the running time it could have been twice as good.



Score: 1 and a half stars out of 4

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