Last of the Monster Kids

Last of the Monster Kids
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Sunday, August 9, 2015

THE SYLVESTER SEMESTER: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992)

The decade was only a few years old but it was already apparent: Action movies were changing in the nineties. It would take most of the decade before the changes became obvious. The eighties action brigade was still popular at the box office and even a few new stars, like Steven Seagal, would emerge. However, Arnold Schwarzenegger had started appearing in wacky comedies, like “Twins” or “Kindergarten Cop.” Perhaps fearful of falling behind his biggest rival, Sylvester Stallone would make his own stabs at goofy comedies. Unlike Arnold’s attempts, which were popular in their day and remain beloved as campy classics, Stallone’s comedies were less well received. “Oscar” was a critical and commercial failure while “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” immediately became an embarrassing punchline. Stallone himself has called it one of the worst movies ever made. Twenty years later, the question must be asked: Is it really that bad?

Joe Bomowski is a L.A. cop with problems. He doesn’t get much respect in his precinct, especially after his partner gets shot in the ass. He just broke up with his girlfriend, who happens to be one of his commanding officers. Joe’s problems are crystallized when his mother suddenly drops into town. Mrs. Bomowski is a smothering mother who takes over Joe’s apartment, tells everyone near-by about his embarrassing childhood, and immediately begins micro-managing her son’s life. Bomowski’s angst only intensifies when Mom witnesses a murder, making them both the target of a weapons smuggling ring.

The entire joke behind “Kindergarten Cop” came from contrasting tough guy actor Arnold Schwarzenegger with a room full of precocious little kids. “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot,” henceforth referred to as “SOMMWS,” functions on a similar gag. Let’s bounce tough guy actor Sylvester Stallone off of a precocious old lady! Unfortunately, this joke is not as durable. The movie trots out a number of predictable, groan-worthy gags. Joe’s Mom shares photos of him as a little kid with everyone, when she’s not telling them about his bed-wetting days. She makes him a six-course breakfast. She cleans his apartment and, in an especially embarrassing sequence, his gun. This leads to the awful scene of the old lady buying a smuggled machine gun. Eventually, the movie builds towards the revelation that this annoying old lady is right about everything. The movie’s central joke is best expressed during a nightmare Sly has. In the middle of a tense shoot-out, he’s wearing a diaper and being chastised by mom, while surrounded by cops. Even Alan Silvestri’s score is mawkish, full of Mickey-Mousing and painfully obvious motifs.

It’s not that Stallone can’t be funny. He’s just not funny in this. He seems to find the material as eye-rollingly lame as the audience does. Stallone mostly seems to be suffering throughout the film. His embarrassment is clear to the viewer. Even when singing country music with Dolly Parton, he maintained some of his action movie dignity. None of that is to be found here, as the star shuffles his feet and mumbles through the dire screenplay. The romantic subplot, which features JoBeth Williams as Joe’s beleaguered girlfriend, is also fairly lame. JoBeth’s Gwen badgers Joe until he takes his mother’s advice. However, Sly at least seems more invested in Willliams while she at least finds some humor in the script.

Which brings us to Mom. Estelle Getty was a comedy veteran. For years, she managed to get laughs out of the broadest material possible on “The Golden Girls,” helping make the show some sort of weird ironic cult classic. Getty’s appeal lied in her timing and whatever ribald thing that came out of her mouth. Sticking her in the role of a smothering mother suffocates these talents. It’s doesn’t help that Mrs. Bomowski is quite an annoying character. She carries around a tiny rug dog, emotionally blackmails her son, manipulates the people around her, and gets the movie’s hero into trouble. Worst yet, we’re suppose to like the character for all of this. The script definitely agrees that Mom is always right. It seems impossible but Estelle appears embarrassed by the material too. She does not look proud when it comes time for her to tuck a giant pistol into her apron strings.

The movie awkwardly attempts to fuse comedy and action. The stakes are harmlessly low. The film’s villain is a limp corrupt business tycoon played by Roger Rees. Rees even puts on a ridiculous upper-crust accent. His team of henchmen, which include a fat guy who constantly sneezes, aren’t intimidating. A subplot about a group of burly bikers selling the stolen guns only muddles the story further. There are two honest-to-God action scenes in the film. The first comes when Joe has to carry his mom out of a building that’s falling down. Director Roger Spottiswoode, never one for subtly, shoots this scene via melodramatic close-ups and slow-mo. The finale, where Stallone plays chicken with an airplane while inside an eighteen wheeler, is mildly diverting and probably the best scene in the flick. Which isn’t saying much.

“SOMMWS” concludes with Stallone rolling his eyes, making a goofy grin, and looking at the camera, which then freeze-frames on his face. Is this a cop movie or an early nineties sitcom? Despite being a lumbering embarrassment for everyone involved, “SOMMWS” became a minor commercial success. But it says a lot about the film’s quality that it makes “Kindergarten Cop” seem like a masterpiece in comparison. In conclusion: Yes, “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” is really quite bad. Whether or not it is the nadir of Sly’s career remains to be seen but it’s certainly not a good movie. [4/10]

[] Frank Stallone or Frank Stallone-esque Inspirational Music
[] Incapacitates or Kills Someone With His Body
[X] Shows Off Buffness
[X] Social Outcast [Bullied Cop]
[X] Sweaty, Veiny Yelling

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