Mothers have been embarrassing their children for a long time, but rarely have any gone as far as the title matriarch in the upcoming HELICOPTER MOM, starring Nia Vardalos. As an over-bearing mom that wants nothing but the best for her only son, she’s willing to grasp onto one side comment that he may be gay and run full bore with it, to the detriment of his social life.
Vardalos plays Maggie Cooper, a single mom raising an only son, Lloyd (Jason Dolley). Lloyd’s getting ready to make the big decision of which college to go to, how he’s going to break the bad news to his mom, and if he prefers guys or girls. His mom loves the idea of having a gay son, and decides to out him to his entire school by enrolling him in a scholarship competition for outted gay students.
Doing a good job of balancing the story between Lloyd’s day to day at school, and then Maggie’s awkward ways of becoming more in his life, HELICOPTER MOM keeps things rolling throughout, not allowing the simpler plot line to just grow stagnant. Maggie joins the PTA to become more involved in Lloyd’s school, causing more strife for him, but also gaining her a friend (Kate Flannery, The Office) and an enemy (Gillian Vigman, THE HANGOVER).
Lloyd’s dad (Mark Boone Jr, Sons of Anarchy), rarely in the picture, until recently, is the one voice of reason in his life, despite feeling it necessary to take his son drinking at a bar when he’s 17. Not being around for much of Lloyd’s upbringing, his outside viewpoint does a great job of grounding some of Maggie’s insanity, but also adds a little sadness to the whole arrangment as father and son didn’t have the opportunity to truly bond and grow together.
Dolley does a rather splendid job as the lead, holding his own against Vardalos’ matriarchal whirling dervish. Spending many years on the Disney sitcom Good Luck Charlie allowed him to work on his comic timing, and having strong comedic actors opposite allows him to also work on playing the joke straight (pun not intended).
While my only complaint is that the ending drags on a little too much, the rest of the film was extremely enjoyable, filled with numerous laughs, and groans of sympathy towards Lloyd’s plight. And while the whole gay/straight question is meant as the plot catalyst, it is still handled seriously without going for the overly easy laugh.
HELICOPTER MOM opens in select theaters and on VOD April 24th, 2015.