THE BAD MOTHER'S HANDBOOK
hopscotchee: robert pattinson score: 25.5 rating: PG-13 time: 90 minutes
we aren't lying when we say we watch a wide variety of movies. not only is it quintessential for us to expand our filmnology and become better filmmakers ourselves, but it's also such a delight when, on rare occasions, we happen to come across movies actors and actresses have, most likely, tried really hard for their PR people to hide. and prepare yourself, because this is one of those times!! for the majority, most of you probably haven't heard of the bad mother's handbook, but, in all fairness, we hadn't either (but, like we said above, PR might've interfered with that). it was by a shear accidental stumbling in our search, while we crafted batch one of our hopscotch, that we came across this unexpected, 2007 television channel movie that - yes, you're seeing this right - stars the one and only robert pattinson. and we're talking rob before batman, before the king, and even before twilight!! this one's a young-y for sure. so, if you're up to the challenge, get comfy and get ready, 'cause this is some serious cringe.
now, first off, we must warn you, when we say serious cringe, we want to specify. we aren't just talking about your typical cringe with blunt diao and a bunch of clichés, this movie also has a lot of severe flaws - like, ooffy-oof, hands-on-head, laughing-but-internally-and-physically-cringing flaws - that ups its wincing probability. unmistakably, what made the movie a harder watch than most were the jumpy and goofy audio transitions - or, more appropriately, its cuts. the scenes skipped from one to another, from loud to quiet, startling the viewer and interrupting the flow of the movie, making it feel erratic. and although there were attempts to make for cleaner switches, through added-in music, the choices of tracks were ill-fitting to the setting and came across cheesy, only taking further away from the film. probably the most intense moment of this was (spoiler) when karen is walking out of the pub, after having had several drinks. before the scene ends, the camera quickly zooms in on her face, as she steps back, queuing her tipsy behaviors, as a funky, early 2000s transition track begins to play. in a scene that was relatively quiet, its heavy bass suddenly takes the audience completely out of the movie, not feeling relevant to the moment at all. and, asides from the quality of the transition itself, by not having music that feels fitting to the scene, the moment loses its intended emotion. now, where the audience should've been concerned for karen and her drunkness, the attention is diverted, ending the scene in a comical and humorous manner. in addition, the editors repetition of jumpy and unrelated material, throughout the movie, makes the story's umbrella-ed theme end up getting lost behind the confusion of what was the scene was trying to 'get at' and what was the emotional response that the director was looking for.
though this may have been disorienting to the plot of the film, a point that should be taken into consideration was the fact that this movie was an adaptation from the book by kate long with the same title. and, like most movie adaptations, there is this understanding as you go in that, if you have not read the book, you might not understand all the parts of the movie, due to vague or cut-out context in the plot, however the level of this does make the difference between better adaptations than others. so for the bad mother's handbook, one could chop all of the inconsistencies and gaps in the story up to the thought that 'they were probably explained this better in the book'. a storyline in the film where this mindset is beneficial is with the escalation and depth around karen's plot. there, just in general, seemed to be a lot of content with her story alone that the writers had to shove into a 90 minute channel movie. attempting to do their best, they tried to fit in (spoiler) karen's response and actions to finding out her daughter's unexpected pregnancy, while also sharing screen time with karen's love life, her relationship with her mom, her finding out that her mom isn't her biological mom and that she was really adopted, and then karen leaving to go meet her biological mom but still make it in time for her daughter going into labor. to the audience, it is a lot of information and drama, which makes for a great and picante book, however, poor balancing these plots left the story unfocused. it was like, was it focusing on the daughter? was it focusing on the mom? and though, there doesn't have to be one or the other, aiming to fluidly convey all of karen's plots, as well as the daughter's was difficult to do all in only 90 minutes. so, going into the movie, it is good to note that this is an adaptation, and that some of the storylines may seem a bit jumpy, however, if you are interested, you can always go back and read the book for further clarification.
lastly, despite some of the more negative critics that we had toward this movie, there was one spotlight throughout this film, that we can't go without mentioning, and it is. . . . robbie boy's rainbow sweater!! don't we all want that, right!! regardless of some of the costumes being slightly unrealistic, from his very early 2000s scarves, to his dorky sweater vests, to his super fly, cranberry/wine, velvet blazer (dang, we wish all guys sported around in that), all of the costume designers' choices for his look were quite enjoyable. above all, though, was his rainbow sweater. it was such a stand out, and, immediately, when you see it on screen, you want it a part of your own closet.
all this said, though the bad mother's handbook was, clearly no first place prize, and missed the mark on its orchestration and execution, do not be afraid to watch it. this movie may not be the cleanest or any harry potter and the goblet of fire, but it is not depressing, ensuring a positive and happy viewing if you are having a bad day or are just looking for a few easy laughs, and would not fail on an enjoyment level for a pile-on friends' get-together. and, even if you are looking at this review, thinking you are above watching a poorly-done movie or that your movie taste is finer than this, aren't you just a bit curious to see one of patman's (robert pattinson + batman = patman) earliest work? c'mon, it's only ninety minutes, and we know you want to.
-- thanks, robert xo