REVIEW: Mommie Dearest (1981)


Mommie Dearest (1981): Capital A

There’s something to say for balancing pairs like horror and comedy or disturbing and sexy. And this movie strikes just the right balance because the violence is mostly psychological and ALL of it is directed at children. Which this movie proves CAN be funny when done right.

The main character is this woman named Joan Crawford. She is played by Faye Dunaway, who you might remember from Supergirl and Halle Berry’s Catwoman movie. Anyway, it’s a fictionalized version of 40’s Hollywood, and Joan Crawford is a big star. This movie really conveys the time period well because they talk about other stars and movies that I KNOW really did exist. Another nice touch is when Joan Crawford wins an Oscar, they actually mention the real films and actresses who were nominated the year in which this is supposed to be.

She’s got hella problems, though. One of my favorite scenes of her crazy is in the beginning. Joan Crawford is yelling at her maid to clean the dirt off the floor better than the way the maid is doing it. Then she just pushes the maid out of the way and gets down on her knees and starts vigorously scrubbing while yelling “I’M NOT MAD AT YOU, I’M MAD AT THE DIRT!!!”. This scene is really disturbing, but also kind of a turn on-which speaks of the deft direction of whoever directed it.

Then she adopts some kids. Just about the age they can talk, she starts psychologically torturing them. She also makes them eat raw steak because cooked steak loses all its vitamins.

And then her career gets worse, so she marries this rich, fat guy and makes him spend all his money.

She also somehow takes over Pepsi-Cola by just being a bitch to some guys who run it.

It all comes to a head when she tries to strangle her adopted daughter after the daughter gets kicked out of her private school for banging some dude in the barn. Because Joan Crawford’s embarrassed.

After she dies, the daughter decides to write a book about Joan Crawford called “Mommie Dearest” and the movie is supposed to be like, all the stuff she’s going to put in the book. So it’s very Meta, and scary as well, and none of the acting is in any way over the top.

And it’s educational. I learned that steak thing. It works with bacon too.

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