Posted: 05/05/2009




by Laura Tucker

Film Monthly Home
Wayne Case
Steve Anderson
The Rant
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
The Indies
Film Noir
Coming Soon
Now Playing
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Interviews TV

Well, I’ve been accused of being an overprotective mother myself, and the reason why, of course, is because I have my own over-protective mother as well. It’s a vicious cycle. My kids get upset with me, but I tell them I had it worse. I had to be home before dark when I was 16. Because of that vicious cycle I’m caught in, I knew I’d like the movie Smother. Well, because of that, and costar Diane Keaton.

Noah Cooper (Dax Shepard) gets fired from his job at the worst possible time, when his wife Clare (Liv Tyler), a preschool teacher, is wanting to start a family. On top of all that, his overprotective mother, Marilyn (Keaton) has left his dad (Ken Howard) in the belief that he’s having an affair. She’s not alone though. She comes with the baggage of five foster dogs, all named Sammy Higgins, in her effort to not attach herself to them, though she does dress them and sleep with them. Also arriving to stay for awhile is Clare’s cousin Myron (Mike White, most recently seen competing with his dad on The Amazing Race), a screenwriter who has nothing to show for his efforts.

Noah goes back to work at a carpet store he worked at long ago, and to his horror, his mom gets a job there as well, the first job she’s had since he was born. He decides now wouldn’t be the best time to start a family, because of his job status, yet can’t be honest with his wife, so tries things like wearing whitey tighties that look to be meant for a 5-year-old and putting his testicles in scalding hot water to slow his sperm count. Of course, he really needn’t have worried, as it’s hard to do anything with their house guests anyway.

I knew it was a movie that went straight to DVD, so I wasn’t expecting it to be a great classic. Keaton and Shepard get the majority of the laughs in the film, with her playing a goofball type of role, and him delivering lines with a very dry, dark humor. She makes admissions like saying she didn’t like Gone With the Wins, because she doesn’t like black movies, yet she loved The Jeffersons. She then talks about liking Wesley Snipes, so he wonders where he fits in to her barometer of black entertainment. Some of her attics, like practically telling the waitress her life story, just remind me too much of my own mom.

Some of the humor is a bit juvenile, but I’ll admit it made me laugh. When Marilyn interrupts Clare and Noah having sex, he notes that of these three things, “mother, son, and boner,” they don’t all belong together.

While Keaton and Shepard carried the film, Liv Tyler seemed to do nothing more than take up space and bat her eyes, much as she usually does. I have never seen emotion from her in any film she was in, whether her dad is about to be blown up in outer space, or she’s going to finally get together with the bandmate of her ex-boyfriend. She never shows emotion. Likewise in Smother, even when her character is really mad at her husband, or when she loses his job, she shows nothing.

This is one of those movies you can catch on cable on a Saturday afternoon, and just have a few guilty pleasure giggles. Because of the dogs in the movie, I was hoping to watch it with my daughter, but because of all the sex and procreation jokes, I think I’ll skip that. Instead, I think it’s much more up the alley of my 16-year-old son.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack, and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, as well as Troubled Hollywood, and is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints and Sazze, . She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at

Got a problem? E-mail us at