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Warner Home Video presents
Mama's Boy (2007)

"Sometimes it takes a great tragedy for a man to see his life clearly."
- Jeffrey (Jon Heder)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: July 25, 2008

Stars: Jon Heder
Other Stars: Anna Faris, Diane Keaton, Jeff Daniels, Sarah Chalke, Eli Wallach, Dorian Missick
Director: Tim Hamilton

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language including sexual references and some drug use
Run Time: 01h:32m:57s
Release Date: June 03, 2008
UPC: 025195008938
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C-B-B- C+

DVD Review

I feel like I have stepped into a time machine while viewing Mama's Boy. Against my will, that is.

At its very center is what wants to be a quirky throwback romantic comedy—the kind that would have been right at home in the mid 1980s—here trading on a variation of Jon Heder's dull Napoleon Dynamite persona, only this time making him Jeffrey, a 29-year-old social misfit still living at home with his mother (Diane Keaton). And when mama falls for a bloated self-help expert (Jeff Daniels), what follows is a fight for her favors, as well as—sniff-sniff—an opportunity to finally grow up and fall in love. With an actual girl (in this case, Anna Faris).

Despite being set in relatively current time, director Tim Hamilton assures us that Heder's Jeffrey is a throwback kind of guy—what with the CD Walkman, a love for Donkey Kong, lapel badges and skinny ties. He's socially stunted, and though he sets up of cleverly kinky window displays at the book store he works at, he's basically a stuck-in-time geek. But what Hamilton allows to play out is a familiar set of scenarios for the genre, meant to sell his geekishness while working towards the obligatory romance with Faris' Nora. And that eventually means even cobbling a big Say Anything homage in the final act. How's that for throwback?

The film is peppered with all sorts of great 1980s-alt music—Hamilton loves a good montage moment—and normally the inclusion of a gem like The Jam's The Modern World would win me over just on its nostalgic glory. And there's plenty of other groovy tunage of similar ilk throughout (The English Beat, The Smiths, Mark Mothersbaugh, Billy Bragg), so I felt a real warm-and-fuzzy comfort with the soundtrack selections. but I just had no connection with what may or may not happen to any of the characters—in part because I could already probably figure it out well before it eventually happened.

I'm not sure the audience for this one, as the music seems geared toward alt-oldtimers like me, yet anyone whose ever seen one of these sort of films will already know where things are going to go. And revisiting that rom-com trek isn't really all that necessary. Heder unfortunately straddles the thin line between annoying and likeable—rendering his character not especially appealing—while Faris seems to always emit a simple comedic charm that seems to salvage a scene just when it is about to die a slow death.

Mama's Boy isn't without some merit (aside from the aforementioned soundtrack), and a rage-induced D&D-styled role playing outing mined some decent laughs, as did Jeff Daniels' photo montage motivational presentation of his colon cancer battle, complete with ugly closeups and a corporate sponsorship. Plus, the whole been-there-done-that feel of this one delivers most of the genre required elements, so that Hamilton isn't reinventing the wheel, he's just rolling another one past us.

And it looks like a wheel I've seen before.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Warner has issued Mama's Boy as a single-layered flipper, with one side carrying the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and the other presented in 1.33:1 fullframe. I used the widescreen version as my choice—and though the transfer is marred by some minor compression issues and light grain—the print carries generally presentable color levels and fairly solid black levels throughout.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround is a bit anemic, rarely offering any significant sense of depth or spatial textures. Voices sound clear, but there are no measurable instances of ambient cues to make this seem like anything more than a glorified to 2.0 blend. The frequent 1980s-era music bucks the trend slightly, coming across full-bodied and far more robust than the rest of the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Semi-Pro, Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show, Over Her Dead Body, Get Smart
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Tim Hamilton
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The main extra here is a commentary from director Tom Hamilton. He has a lot to say, but not all of it is particularly important ("this is a real bookstore", "this was a fun shoot"). Hamilton does, however, come through with a look at his own personal process of filmmaking and fighting to keep certain lines, and if you happen to enjoy Mama's Boy then it will likely merit a casual listen.

There are also four Additional Scenes (06m:17s), which are essentially deleted clips, presented in nonanamorphic widescreen. Nothing groundbreaking, but a scene with Heder and Wallach playing Scrabble is entertaining.

Toss in a few trailers (none for the feature), 22 chapter stops and subs (English, French, Spanish), and that's all she wrote.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

This retro rom-com has a few memorable moments, but the characters and their actions are largely one-note and their actions somewhat predictable, to say nothing of Heder's portrayal of a vaguely unlikable lead. This is one of those films-out-time, and would have been more at home in the mid 1980s.

I would, however, buy the soundtrack.


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