Serial Mom

On the surface, Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) is your typical suburban housewife and loving mom. She keeps the floors and windows clean, and has dinner on the table every night at exactly the same time. She’s pleasant and polite, and always has a smile ready to greet her guests.

serialmomBeverly Sutphin is a character in a John Waters film, so you know there’s something twisted lurking behind that perfect facade. True to form, Beverly has a few dark secrets that she keeps from her loving dentist husband Eugene (Sam Waterston), daughter Misty (Rikki Lake) and son Chip (Matthew Lillard). First, she likes to make obscene phone calls.

Not random obscene phone calls, but nasty calls to a neighbor, which she follows up with calls of concern. She also likes to read books on serial killers, which she hides behind bird watching manuals as her husband lies in bed with her. Her obsession with serial killers gets a road test when Beverly snaps and starts avenging those who have betrayed her family. First it’s Chip’s math teacher, who finds himself in the path of Beverly’s car.

Then it’s Misty’s two-timing boyfriend, who winds up being impaled by a fireplace poker as he relieves himself in a public restroom. Hey, it’s a John Waters film. There has to be at least one scene in a restroom. Beverly can’t stop, and soon finds herself under investigation for murder. How Waters handles this dilemma is just part of the wicked fun of “Serial Mom.” I like John waters films because he’s audacious. He doesn’t just push the envelope, he reinvents it. “Serial Mom” is the most mainstream film Waters has ever tackled, and he has fun with the conventions.

What a delight it is to see such serious actors like Turner and Waterston sending themselves up. Turner is delicious as the mad matron with a flair for dirty words. Her phone call sequence is downright hilarious. Waterston does his understanding husband routine with just enough of a wink to make it funny.

Lake and Lillard are fine as the children, while the supporting cast proves that Waters is a master of filling in the blanks with interesting people. The film has some rough spots, but it never lets up. Even towards the end, when Patty Hearst plays a juror with the bad sense to wear white shoes after Labor Day, the film still kicks butt. Definitely not for everyone, “Serial Mom” takes chances and usually scores. It’s good dirty fun.


VISION: [ ] 20/20 [ X ] Good [ ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

Cheerful colors abound in this film, and the digital transfer respects the deco color scheme. Bright colors and good saturation, with strong blacks. Delivered in the film’s original 1.66:1 widescreen ratio, the images are generally sharp and vivid, with a couple of exceptions. Less than a handful of scenes look washed out. There is also some minute flecking, but a nicely preserved negative allows for clean images. Good depth of field and attention to detail round out the goods.

HEARING: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

Playful Dolby Surround soundtrack puts the emphasis where its needed, and provides for an interesting blend of musical cues, strong dialogue and the occasional ambient noise for effect. Basses are okay, while middle and high ends sound clean. Surround effects are there but no big deal, but that is the nature of the beast.

ORAL: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Good [ ] Poor

Closed captions for the hard of hearing in English and subtitles in French and Spanish.

COORDINATION: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

Join writer-director John Waters for a lively audio commentary. I like listening to a John Waters commentary because he has so many life experiences to share. He’s very funny and wicked, and he knows his stuff, so when he pays homage to something, you know it comes from the heart. The DVD also features the film’s original theatrical trailer, a behind-the-scenes featurette, interview clips with all of the majors, six televisions spots, and additional behind-the-scenes footage of Waters directing his cast. Nicely done.

PROGNOSIS: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Fit [ ] Will Live [ ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

John Waters take another stab at black comedy and cuts deep.

VITALS: $24.98/Rated R/93 Minutes/Color/31 Chapter Stops/Snapcase/#90980




HMO: HBO Home Video

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