Poor John (Brooks) - he is two-times divorced, an unsuccessful author, and far past his prime. We automatically pity him, because his situation hits close to home. As an author, John is continually looking towards new opportunities to snag a story, and after thinking it through many times, he decides that if he moves back in with his mother, Beatrice (Reynolds), he'll have a better understanding of himself.
If John and Beatrice had a good relationship, he'd never move back in with her - that's the point. He believes that her continuous disappointment in him (though not blatantly voiced) is the reason behind his limited success in marriage and his career. We can see it immediately, as Beatrice obviously favors John's brother, Jeff (Rob Morrow). As the film wears on, we only see a glimmer of what John might have gone through as a child, but in the end, it gives him the enlightenment he longs for.
"Mother" is an odd case because automatically one might think that it's going to be outrageous, possibly filled with stereotypes - the sex-obsessed mom, the neurotic son, etc. What's surprising is how natural and realistic each situation is, while still managing to be funny. Each situation, in some way or another, relates to something we've experienced with our own mother's, and it gives us the chance to look at our own life and laugh.
Brooks is a director not known for over-the-top comedy, but for the subtle kind, and "Mother" is no exception. Many scenes ring with anxious neuroses, and are so well-timed and written that we can't but watch in glee. The scene in which John goes through the food in Beatrice's kitchen, is so ridiculously well-shot that it is instantaneously memorable.
Brooks is a fine director, and is acting is just as good: instantly we like him because he is so similar to most members of society. But it's Reynolds who is magnificent, who is so flawless in her delivery that she automatically gives us the perception that Beatrice is one of those people that is nasty, but doesn't mean to be.
"Mother" is an unconventional comedy that works great despite its at-first unbelievable premise.
Mother was a great film. I am surprised that I had never heard of it before. The acting is superb and it all feels very really. And it is absolutely laugh out loud funny, without overtly trying to be. The humour comes from the oddites of every day life and relationships. And I have to say, it really cleared up a lot of things for me with my relationship with my own mother.