A lonely woman befriends a group of teenagers and decides to let them party at her house. Just when the kids think their luck couldn’t get any better, things start happening that make them question the intention of their host.
Jesus. I think the main thing I took away from this film is that Ma and I ain’t that different. Watching her hang out with actual teenagers in her basement is an accurate depiction of my social life. LOL.
Sure, I’m joshing but I do feel for our protagonist/antagonist as we slowly learn more about the humiliation that leads her to being this… unconventional. School age kids are the cruellest, man and I wouldn’t go back for all the money (and tea) in China.
Before we get to Ma, let’s start at the beginning. Maggie Thompson (Silvers) and her mother Erica (the legend Juliette Lewis) move back to Erica’s small hometown in Ohio. Erica has a job at the local casino while Maggie attends the very same high school her mother did.
On her first day, Maggie befriends a group; Andy, Haley, Chaz and Darrell, who invite her to a party. On their first outing together, the gang meet veterinary technician Sue Ann (Spencer) outside the liquor store and persuade her to pick them up some booze. All is fine for the kids until the po po turns up to where they’re hanging out.
It seems Andy’s dad Ben has found out about the drinking and sends an officer to arrest his son. Ben runs a successful security business in town but due to the officer’s relationship to Andy’s Dad (he thinks he’s a dick), he lets the kids off. All this is convenient for Sue Ann though as now the kids don’t have a drinking spot and when they approach her for more supplies a few days later, she leads them to her place.
Here she tells the kids they can more or less do what they want in her basement as long as they a) don’t take the Lord’s name in vain and b) NEVER go upstairs. Ooooooh!
When Sue Ann, now known as ‘Ma’, gets a little too into her new friends and their lives, they start to back off. What’s her agenda? And what’s on her mind when she drifts off every now and again into a deep reverie?
Well! There’s a lot going on beneath the surface and behind closed doors. Spencer’s performance is suitably unhinged and I loved every moment she was on the screen. She has the range to flip flop from lovely (and relatively in control) to maniacal in a heartbeat. It’s also so fricking refreshing to have a plus-size lead and a WOC at that. The role of Ma is delicious and it suits Spencer so well.
Booksmart’s Diana Silvers is good as Maggie and of course it’s always amazing to see Juliette Lewis on screen.
While Ma’s behaviour grows increasingly erratic and bizarre, we learn more about what has brought us here and needless to say, things are about to get real for a couple of the characters. Whether or not the punishments fit the crime is up to you to decide but I think I’m with Ma.
I have one question though – and *Spoiler* – Ma dispatches with someone at one point – and nobody ever refers to it again. Even though it’s done in broad daylight and no effort is made to cover it up. Eh?
I enjoyed myself, and laughed and cringed a lot but the truth is, the script is horrible and the film isn’t as good as it could have been, especially given its Oscar-winning lead. And I guessed most of the story a third of the way through.