Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, Felicity Huffman Play It Safe With Mom Comedy ‘Otherhood’
Millennials, more than any previous generation, are delaying major milestones in order to chase their dreams and enjoy the disposable income they have, and that means that their parents have a longer period between becoming empty-nesters and grandparents. Netflix comedy “Otherhood” focuses on three such mothers (Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, and Felicity Huffman), longtime friends who bonded on the playground back when their sons (Sinqua Wells, Jake Hoffman, and Jake Lacy), a trio of lifelong friends who are all living in NYC, were just boys. While this movie is unlikely to be a memorable addition to the filmography of anyone involved, it offers an amusing look of what it’s like to be a mother to a young man.
The title “Otherhood” here refers to the aforementioned awkward in-between stage mothers of childless adults find themselves in. The three heroines all have different anxieties apart from being neglected by their sons. Carol (Bassett) is having trouble adjusting to being a widow, while Helen (Huffman) cannot let go of her living first husband, even though she’s now married to a more dependable second husband, Frank (Damian Young). And although Gillian is still married to her first husband, she has some skeletons in the closet. Also, her son Daniel (Hoffman) is the only one in the bunch who is still struggling to get his career off the ground. To complicate things, he has sabotaged his relationship with the woman he wants to marry, Erin (Heidi Gardner).
It’s after another booze-fueled Mother’s Day brunch without their sons that the ladies decide to make an impromptu trip to the city from Poughkeepsie to surprise the boys. While daughters would have probably been more easily guilted into readily letting the moms in, the sons are less yielding. Carol’s son Matt (Wells), the art director of a men’s magazine, is particularly annoyed by the intrusion, which only fuels his mom to push harder. Bassett is fun to watch as she lets down her hair, literally, following her womanzing son to a swanky party.
Huffman plays against type as the self-involved Helen, whose son Paul (Lacy, who sports a sweet man bun), has held off officially coming out to his mom, which makes sense considering that she makes most things about her. But that’s not the big bombshell he drops, and her coming to terms with a big decision he made is the film’s most intriguing storyline.
For a film that puts together such illustrious actresses, this one is remarkably forgettable. The biggest problem with the script is that it really isn’t that funny. Garnder, a gifted “SNL” cast member, falls flat here as Daniel’s hairstylist ex, but that’s more due to her one-dimensional role than any failing on her part. Molly Bernard, a rising actress who previously made an impression on “Transparent,” gets more of an opportunity to show off her comedic chops as Allison, the neurotic friend of a friend whom Gillian pushes Daniel to go on a blind date with. Originally intended to be released closer Mother’s Day but delayed due to Huffman’s involvement in the notorious college admissions bribery scandal, “Otherhood” seems destined to languish in the dog days of summer.
“Otherhood” begins streaming Aug. 2 on Netflix.