Review: ‘Mom’

In Erin Greenwell's female buddy movie, "Mom," a mismatched odd couple of market researchers, one uptight and straight and the other hang-loose and butch, is stranded in the town of New Hope during the annual Chili Cook-Off. Practiced sketch thesps Emily Burton and Julie Goldman keep the character comedy light, affable and neatly-timed as they ask overly specific questions in customer preference surveys, hole up in a local hostel and grapple with old girlfriends or new job opportunities.

In Erin Greenwell’s female buddy movie, “Mom,” a mismatched odd couple of market researchers, one uptight and straight and the other hang-loose and butch, is stranded in the town of New Hope during the annual Chili Cook-Off. Practiced sketch thesps Emily Burton and Julie Goldman keep the character comedy light, affable and neatly-timed as they ask overly specific questions in customer preference surveys, hole up in a local hostel and grapple with old girlfriends or new job opportunities. Minor but likable pic could transition from gay fest circuit to cable.

Ambitious Kelly (Burton) sees her stint at a market research firm as a stepping stone to a coveted job as a field reporter. Her laid-back cameraperson Linda (Burton) sees the assignment as a means of earning enough money to buy a tattoo parlor. Traveling house to house and asking questions whose relevance strains credulity, the duo is hardly simpatico.

One of the interview subjects turns out to be an old g.f. of Linda’s, now respectably settled and married, and they briefly rekindle the flame. Meanwhile, career-minded Kelly aggressively pursues a possible position at a radio station. Ultimately, however, the local Chili Cook-Off allows the women to bond in a relatively meaningful, if comically doomed joint endeavor.

Greenwell, in her sophomore outing, relies on little comic touches and bits of business instead of big laughs or elaborate payoffs. Every encounter adds a touch of sociological satire or oddball color to the comfortable canvas, which is never mean-spirited or judgmental. Burton and Goldman amble along nicely in soft-shoe counterpoint, their routine nonchalantly synchronized to improv rhythms.

George Su’s DV lensing stresses the intimacy and smalltown feel of the location shooting without feeling claustrophobic. Terry Dame’s bouncy score is in line with the pic’s gentle irony.

Mom

Production

A Smithy production. Produced, directed, written by Erin Greenwell.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), George Su; editors, Greenwell, Mary C. Matthews; music, Terry Dame; production designer, Dorothy Dicomo; sound, Maribel Arce, Mary Feaster. Reviewed on DVD, New York, June 7, 2006. (In NewFest Film Festival, New York.) Running time: 70 MIN.

With

Emily Burton, Julie Goldman, Emma Bowers, Mary C. Matthews.
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