When I think Uma Thurman, I think vixen—the kick-ass, take-no-prisoners variety. The kind of chick I wish would tickle my tummy—only I’d be terrified to ask her to do it.
“Bitch, you don’t have a future.”
But hot A-listers like Uma occasionally take an unexpected turn into a smaller, more quotidian tale. I did a double-take at the promo art for Motherhood when I saw it…Could that frizzy-haired, frazzled woman on the disc cover really be Quentin Tarantino’s muse? Oh, Uma…
“Bitch, you don’t have a future.”
Domestic life is usually depicted in film as perfect—spotless kitchens, well-heeled parents, and model children who deliver their cute lines on demand. So I have to at least toast Motherhood for presenting a grittier image of the modern family. My admiration ends there, however.
The realization has set in that this is not my Uma. Instead she’s Eliza Kendall Welch, blogger and mother of two, sharing a grungy Manhattan apartment with Avery (Anthony Edwards), two children, and a dog. Her writerly dreams have been subjugated to domesticity, but today her big chance at success comes in the form of a blogging contest about—you guessed it—Motherhood. But can she get her entry in on time while caring for an invalid neighbor, walking the dog, and planning a birthday party for her 6-year-old daughter Clara? OMG, CAN SHE DO IT?
“See, honey? Blogging gives my life validity. You go watch TV.”
Not much happens to thicken the plot. We see Eliza attempting repeatedly to type the masterpiece that will catapult her from the hand-to-mouth obscurity of parenthood to the immediate fame we all know comes from blogging. She’s constantly badgered and interrupted; her car gets towed; her bike tire gets punctured; the bakery makes a mistake on her daughter’s cake. It’s all so painfully ordinary, and yet so contrived.
Throughout it all Eliza is a flustered mess, tripping, dropping things, and pissing everyone off. At the apex of frustration, with cars honking for her to move, she inexplicably pauses to light a cigarette; somehow we’re supposed to feel sympathy because she’s such a fuck-up—but with a child in the back seat passively sharing her smoke, how can we? In voice-over she laments her grueling life but still finds time to get coffee, go to a sale with her slutty friend (Minnie Driver), and slam-dance with a delivery carrier who regards her with the most stupidly daft and inapt expression of adoration that ever graced an actor’s face. And does she do the dirty with him? OF COURSE NOT! NO GOODIES FOR YOU, LIQUORSTORE BEAR!
“My glasses make me look smart. Not smart enough to use the Pill though.”
Everything’s going to hell, the birthday party is imminent, and Eliza alienates her best friend (with her blog, obviously proving her writing talent). Her husband won’t answer his cell phone (would you?), and then the very worst happens: the bakery writes Clara’s name incorrectly on the cake! If ever a character were plunged into despair, these are the circumstances. A darker nadir there never was, as Eliza struggles with the calamity.
“Ooooh, a sale! Wait, let me put aside my serious ambitions to revel in feminine frivolity.”
And solves it off-screen. A good film-making rule of thumb is that a pivotal resolution should always occur on-screen. But this obviously isn’t a good film. So we’re left to sweat about the name on the cake, then told matter-of-factly that Eliza managed to fix it. (OMG! How? With icing? With a knife? By scraping the icing? Holy shit, can people do that themselves?!)
I might not have completed the six-pack if not for the most unforgivable contrivance of all: the DEUS EX MACHINA. Throughout this entire time-wasting flick, Eliza and Avery have established that they are struggling financially. Eliza’s hope has been to secure a great writing gig, bail the family out, and reclaim her professional identity and self-esteem. But guess what? Avery announces he’s sold a rare book and netted them a windfall! He saved the day! The husband saved the day, and now Eliza doesn’t need to! In fact, her whole day has been meaningless.
She should have fucked that delivery guy.
Apparently director/writer Katherine Dieckmann thinks women are pretty trivial. Watch this only if you’re a masochist with a full beer fridge.
“Damn, I always forget where home row is. Maybe my husband can show me.”
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Shot: every time Eliza blogs.*
Drink a Bonus Beer: if you feel sorry for Avery.
Drink a Bonus Case: if you feel sorry for Eliza.
*If someone made you watch this film, make them drink TWO shots each time Eliza blogs.