Friday, June 26, 2009

Serial Mom (John Waters, 1994)

Inadvertently causing pussy willows to appear more erotic than they have any right to be, and, not to mention, causing one to reassess their opinion of what kind of damage a leg of lamb can do to a stationary human head if struck multiple times, Serial Mom is a yet another hilarious ode to the sublunary of suburbia and spontaneous homicide from the commonsense mind of John Waters, the patron saint of dementia and difficult to maintain facial hair. Whenever I find myself perusing the aisles of my local supermarket in search of low cost ham and nearly expired couscous, I can't help but observe the staggering amount of female mothers doing the same thing with their smallish offspring in toe and wonder: why aren't they going berserk and killing everyone? Well, this film dares to wonder that exact same query. The stresses of motherhood are put under some sort of microscope type thingy and explored with a playful sense of exaggeration from start to finish, as we follow the murderous inclinations of Beverly Sutphin: mother, passionate sex partner, telephone prankster, and a friend to garbage men everywhere. Putting the names Mink Stole and Patricia Hearst on top of each other in the opening credits was just beginning of the sheer amplitude of excellence this film put forth in its simplistic objective to appall and entertain. Sure, my innate desire to see Mink and Patty aggressively make-out with one another while caressing each other's thighs went unrealized, but they do share the same atmospheric state at one point, so it wasn't a total loss. The bizarre fantasies of a dick-wielding lesbian notwithstanding, the unabashedly perpendicular performance of Kathleen Turner as Miss Sutphin is the pragmatic pith of this particular picture show. (My strap-ons, by the way, are always laced with a non-irritating brand of tenderness.)

Nature loving, environmentally friendly, the affectionate mother of two can turn psychotic, ungentle, and vicious at the mere sight of a slighted family member. While it may seem like Beverly Sutphin's fits of rage are grossly disproportionate, the deranged warmth Kathleen brings to the role makes her violent indiscretions look reasonable, and, to be honest, downright justified at times.

Only a committed actress of the calibre of Miss Turner could make Beverly's bloodlust seem warranted. I'm sorry, Suzanne Somers, but your TV movie version of Serial Mom was probably the equivalent of a wet-nurse who isn't even close to being wet. And the reason being: you're not as awesome as Kathleen Turner.

The art direction and the general coolness of the pop culture references peppered throughout Serial Mom were a constant joy to wallow in. However, they weren't just a bunch of names being dropped in overly smug sort of way. No, when John Waters makes an allusion to something, it's done out of a pure love for the thing or person, not some self-satisfied attempt to appear hip and edgy. Anyway, I loved the scenes that featured Joan Crawford's axe swinging from Strait-Jacket, Justin Whalin reading a Bettie Page magazine (guys who touch themselves to Bettie are neat), the Pee-wee Herman doll, the posters for Connie Stevens' Scorchy and Traci Lords' Shock Em' Dead, and the painting of Don Knotts.

Epic in its succinct depiction of a telephone prankster working at the top of their game, the phone battle between Kathleen's serial killer admiring Beverly Sutphin and Mink Stole's pussy averse Dottie Hinkle is the stuff of unhinged and potty-mouthed legend. I don't know what was sweeter, the sound of Kathleen saying "cocksucker" or the sound of Mink saying "cocksucker." You see, Kathleen says "cocksucker" with an extreme form of self-confidence, while Mink says "cocksucker" with a kind of quiet dignity (plus she looked adorable while saying it). Either way, the way they both said "cocksucker" brought fudge-flavoured tears to eyes.

The always alluring Mink Stole, while taking a bit of a backseat to the almighty Kathleen Turner, does bring a terrific unbalanced neuroticism to Dottie Hinkle, a gardening enthusiast who steals parking spaces and is reluctant about cursing. This is of course all changes when Beverly goes on finally trial for her alleged crimes, as Dottie, in a funny scene, lets the expletives flow freely from her sexy gob.

Looking on, and appearing hotter than ever, was the delectable Patricia Hearst as Juror #8. It's true, Traci Lords' modest role as "Carl's Date" seemed like a letdown in the meatiness department, but Patricia's stellar seated work in the jury box more than made up for the Traci deficiency. Garbed in white pumps (with matching hosiery) and a series of smart business suits, the ravishing Miss Hearst may not say much in terms of words or sentences, but believe me when I tell you that her presence was always felt.

Hell, even Kathleen's character seemed to feel it. Then again, I think the fact that juror number eight was wearing white shoes after Labour Day is what bought her to the accused murderers' attention (she thinks it's a major fashion faux pas). That being said, the constant shots of Patricia's pardoned gams being crossed and uncrossed were greatly appreciated.

In closing, Serial Mom is the funniest Matthew Lillard movie ever made. Oh, and keep an eye for Bess Armstrong (Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again) as a dental nurse.

video uploaded by vandal30


  1. I'd forgotten how much I liked this movie...despite the presence of Lillard. Oh, Kathleen...come back. I miss you.

  2. Okay, so I was over at Etiquette reading about the whole white shoe/Labor Day issue (they say a lady should definitely NOT rock the white shoe after the symbolic end of the summer) and found one piece of advice extremely off putting and almost insulting.

    The question posed to the Grrls was this, "Can I wear stockings with sandals?"

    Now, Yum-Yum, I'm sure you'd agree with me that the stockings and sandals combo are a sexy look for any teeny bopper, secretary, nurse, housewife, and/or retired quinquagenarian....but those snoots at Etiquette Grrls said this:

    "Why would you want to? Stockings with sandals look bizarre-- the toes are all weird! And if we're talking about Colored Stockings, it's even Worse! Some Would-Be Entrepreneurs have tried to Get Around the Problem by coming up with toe-less nylons, but come on; these are Simply Insane."

    Can you believe it?! The nerve of some people. Sorry, I just had to vent....and didn't know where else to turn...

    Oh, you'll be glad to know that I would be considered a "neat guy" in your book. And I'm pleased to hear you take such loving care of your strap-ons.

  3. i really remember loving this movie and recommending it to my own mom (who loved Romancing the Stone and other Turner fare). wonder if she ever ended up watching it?

    the part that was hardest to watch for me was the extreme close ups of old people eating chicken. so funny. so gross. so glad she punched their tickets and made it stop.

  4. Billy: I know it's a cliche and all, but Matthew Lillard is kinda annoying.

    Mr. Canacorn: I must admit, I do like the pink, green and black layout of their site (it's quite soothing), but their attitude when it comes to fashion is a tad fascist. People should wear whatever they want. (Yeah!)

    Calendar-centric fashion rules are Un-Lithuanian.

    Your sureness is justified, as I'm a big fan of the stitchy goodness that is sandal toe.

    Quinquagenarian is a cool word.

    I'm not exactly shocked to find out that you're a "neat guy," but it is good to know.

    wiec?: My mom loves Romancing the Stone as well.

    Ugh! Old people eating chicken are the worst.

  5. I'm not a huge fan of John Waters (yeah, yeah, I know), but this movie cracks me up. Whenever I think of Labo(u)r day, I think of this movie. And phone pranks are awesome.

    "Whenever I find myself perusing the aisles of my local supermarket in search of low cost ham and nearly expired couscous, I can't help but observe the staggering amount of female mothers doing the same thing with their smallish offspring in toe and wonder: why aren't they going berserk and killing everyone?"


  6. Well, as long you know. ;)

    Seriously, I dig the fact that you like at least one of his movies.

    I think I was trying to convey the profound respect I have for motherhood. Either way, me glad you likey.

  7. This is one of the few John Waters movies I've never seen. I have no clue why. I've always wanted to though.