Mommie Dearest

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) is an adored actress and sex symbol, but her life is not as pristine as it might seem at first glance. In front of the cameras, she is gorgeous and always with class, but in her private life, she is not so well balanced. She longs to be a mother and has adopted two young children, Christina (Mara Hobel) and Christopher (Jeremy Reinbolt). This seems like an ideal situation, but Joan is single at the time and encounters all sorts of problems at home, all while trying to juggle life as a movie star, which is hard enough by itself. And soon enough, Joan and her kids start to battle it out and it seems as if it will never end, as Joan’s temper grows shorter by the hour, or so it would seem. You would think growing up the child of a rich, famous mother would be a good thing, but as these two soon learn, things don’t always work out as expected.

This has to be one of the most ridiculous films of all time, but each time I view it, I can’t help but laugh from start to finish. Of course, this is supposed to be a true story and is based on Christina Crawford’s book on her mother Joan, but just how true it is, that’s anyone’s guess. But the movie does the book justice and adds another layer to the material, thanks to some outrageous performances, especially in terms of Faye Dunaway’s turn as Joan. Dunaway takes her character to another level and screams into the audience’s minds, in one of the most hilarious and over the top performances ever. Is this is a good movie? I don’t think so, but if you’re in the mood for an off the wall, over the top Hollywood story, then give Mommie Dearest a spin.

The main reason (and perhaps the sole reason) to watch this movie is Faye Dunaway, who is on her game as Joan Crawford, although she takes it way over the top, almost all the time. But that kind of approach works for this role and she adds a ton of humor to the flick, which has to be worth something, given the rather dark nature of the material. I think she hits her lines to perfection and while perhaps not her finest work per se, she delivers on what is needed, which counts for a lot, if you ask me. Dunaway even won the Razzie in 1982 for Worst Actress, so you know her work was memorable, to be sure. You can also see Dunaway in such films as Supergirl, The Thomas Crown Affair, Network, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Yards. The cast also includes Steve Forrest (Storyville, Spies Like Us), Diana Scarwid (What Lies Beneath, Inside Moves), and Rutanya Alda (The Dark Half, The Deer Hunter).

Video: How does it look?

Mommie Dearest is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a very good looking treatment, but it seems like the source materials could use some work, to be sure. The print shows flecks, debris, and grain throughout, though not always overly harsh, so the film is still watchable. The flaws aren’t small by any means, but don’t be scared off this transfer, as this is the best the film’s ever looked. The colors look a little faded and the contrast is dated, but in the end, this is still a solid presentation, given the film’s previous editions. It is also nice to have the movie in widescreen at last, so that alone makes this worth a look, I think.

Audio: How does it sound?

A newly minted Dolby Digital 5.1 surround option is included here, but you won’t notice the surrounds much, due to this material. The musical score by Henry Mancini is lush and sounds good here however, but there is minimal surround presence in terms of sound effects, which should be no surprise. It all sounds clean and very natural however, so I see no reason to knock it, especially when compared to prior releases. No errors found with the dialogue either, this is a very crisp and much improved audio experience. This disc also includes a restored mono option, French language track, and English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the original theatrical trailer.

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