Though pregnant with possibility, "Motherhood" fails to deliver. As a sleepless, serially blogging, financially strapped, generally embittered Manhattan mom of two, Uma Thurman looks convincingly frumpy.
Though pregnant with possibility, “Motherhood” fails to deliver. As a sleepless, serially blogging, financially strapped, generally embittered Manhattan mom of two, Uma Thurman looks convincingly frumpy. But a would-be comedic script by director Katherine Dieckmann (“Diggers”) forces the star to spout such geysers of self-pity, you’d think motherhood in the West Village was akin to, say, motherhood in Eastern Congo. World preem at Sundance went over like a lead balloon among viewers who laughed more at pic’s implausibilities than at jokes per se. Name actors will ensure adoption of this fussy baby by smallscreen folks, but other pickups seem iffy.Street parking, dog poop, a distracted hubby (miscast Anthony Edwards) and location shooting on her block drive Eliza (Thurman) around the bend, though a shopping spree with pal Sheila (Minnie Driver) and an extended in-home visit from a hunky young messenger (Javier Picayo), who admires the “poetical” view from her walkup, provide momentary relief. Eliza, whose mommy-blog is called “The Bjorn Identity,” describes herself as a former writer for weekly papers that “aren’t the same anymore” (Dieckmann wrote film reviews for the Village Voice). Regretting that her classist blogs address only the smallest percentage of the population, Eliza provides a sharp critique of motherhood — though the pic’s title sounds much too universal for the relative hardships onscreen. The film’s off-putting sense of humor has Jodie Foster, playing herself in a cameo, cursing at paparazzi, and Eliza musing about the “benefits of 9/11” when it comes to cell-phone coverage. Near the end of a lean 89 minutes, Eliza learns to feel fortunate, but by then, audience empathy is scarce to nonexistent. Sporting rumpled clothes, unkempt brown hair and the eyeglasses of yesteryear, Thurman appears in every scene, which is less advantageous to the star than it may sound. Halfway through, Driver’s Sheila briefly takes centerstage, getting angry that Eliza blogged about Sheila’s illicit bathtub pleasure with a kid’s toy. By default, the cast’s strongest impression is made by 80-year-old Alice Drummond (the spooked librarian in the first scene of “Ghostbusters”) as Eliza’s forgivably needy neighbor. Shooting by Nancy Schreiber is sitcom-bright; real-life West Village residents are thanked in the end credits for their “patience.”