Helicopter Mom (2014)
Editor’s Note: Helicopter Mom opens in select theaters and On Demand April 24.
It can be really hard to boil an entire movie down to a one line summary. How do you possibly pack all of the nuance and depth assuredly contained in a film into a brief sentence? Most of the time, these summaries plastered across IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes are simplistic and fail to adequately describe a film. They are often little more than a description of a major plot point, which is a tough sell for anything that is even remotely familiar or mundane. IMDB’s description of Helicopter Mom states, “Maggie Cooper thinks it would be really cool if her son Lloyd were gay. So cool, in fact, that she outs him to the entire school.” Certainly no film could be this idiotic or blatantly homophobic. Having now watched Helicopter Mom, all I can say is: yes, yes it could.
…it is about as fresh as that rotting piece of aluminum foil wrapped leftovers forgotten in the back of your fridge, its odor creeping and growing daily.
Helicopter Mom is in many ways a film from a different and far worse time. Head-to-toe it plays like a lackluster piece of late-90s teen comedy garbage. It would love to be compared to a standby like 10 Things I Hate About You, but in all honesty, struggles to even be considered equivalent in quality or sheer watchability to Drive Me Crazy. It is a knock-off of a knock-off that believes by introducing the subject of sexuality, it assuredly deserves to be considered fresh and worthwhile. However, it is about as fresh as that rotting piece of aluminum foil wrapped leftovers forgotten in the back of your fridge, its odor creeping and growing daily.
The film doesn’t even have the good grace to feel remotely relevant. It is positively overflowing with dated references, to the point where I began to wonder if writer Duke Tran had simply been buried in a time capsule furiously pounding out the script to something no one should have ever read. For a film so reliant on the teenage experience, the nearly alien references to Ryan Lochte and a strangely placed dance number that is essentially the Gangnam Style routine, only serve to cement its disconnection. It is akin to watching your friend’s mother bandy about slang from another era with an off-putting and undeserved sense of self-confidence. The complete lack of any sense of the present is utterly depressing.
Then there is the issue of the film’s central plot point: that a mother would be so aggressively separated from reality to determine that her son is gay before he has even reached a conclusion. Putting aside the very ridiculous nature that seems to laugh in the face of believability, it is disgustingly offensive. The concept belittles homosexuality, simplifying it to as some errant choice made out of convenience and opportunity. Rather than being blatantly anti-homosexual, the film deigns to act as if it is doing the homosexual community a service by making it seem so accessible. However, at every turn it simplifies a whole crop of people, defining them by nothing more than who they love, and aggressively stereotyping them along the way. As if this offense weren’t enough, it then cripples its characters with dialogue that is no better than Jerry Seinfeld quickly tagging on “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” At least the angrily anti-gay have the common courtesy to announce their hatred, Helicopter Mom wrongly believes its bigotry to be tolerant and accepting.
Rather than being blatantly anti-homosexual, the film deigns to act as if it is doing the homosexual community a service by making it seem so accessible.
There are so many elements of Helicopter Mom that make it a failure. It is a lazily shot made-for-TV movie that could only be accepted by a youthful Disney audience that simply doesn’t know any better. The script is written with the skill of a high school theater class suck-up. With the commitment of a distracted child, the film doesn’t even have the ability to stick to its own established societal makeup. There is no sense of character knowledge, spinning about with a dizzying amount of unmotivated character shifts. The school is populated by angry homophobes, lackadaisically spouting hateful vitriol, until the story needs them to be sympathetic, at which point they all turn on a dime. There is no consistency to anything and large sections of the film are absolutely incoherent, to the point where I debate whether or not the script supervisor even decided to show up at all during the course of filming.
Near the end of the film, Helicopter Mom tries to say something unique, to offer an alternative viewpoint that could be deemed worthwhile. At this point, however, the film has become so mired in a quagmire of sub-mediocre drivel that it can be considered nothing but dishonest and forgettable. The best thing that can be said about Helicopter Mom is that the acting is fine. No single actor turns in a bad performance, Jason Dolley is painfully milquetoast but adequate and Nia Vardalos is as annoying as it appears the script would like her to be. Helicopter Mom is ultimately like its titular character, hopelessly disconnected from reality, offensively selfish, annoying, and patently unfunny. This dated and haphazardly assembled piece of stereotype-laden homophobia pervasively minimizes homosexuality and is anything but entertaining.
Helicopter Mom is ultimately like its titular character, hopelessly disconnected from reality, offensively selfish, annoying, and patently unfunny. This dated and haphazardly assembled piece of stereotype-laden homophobia pervasively minimizes homosexuality and is anything but entertaining.