my-moms-new-boyfriendDirected by: George Gallo.

Written by: George Gallo.

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Meg Ryan, Colin Hanks and Selma Blair. 97 min.

Review top sheet: My Mom’s New Boyfriend is a light-hearted, silly film with a few genuinely funny moments. It’s not going to win Oscars or have any significant effect on your life, but as frothy template-driven chick flicks go, you could do worse.

Will you like this film?

  • Yes, if it’s all become too much and you just want to tune out for a bit and treat your mind to some Soma.
  • No, if you read Proust for pleasure.
  • Maybe, if you’re just into Banderas.


General comments: there is a real dearth of English-language films in Moscow right now. The October Cinema is not showing any at all (at least until the beginning of September – and maybe not even then). Which is a shame as it provided me with a reliable stock of generally appalling films to mock (which, it has been suggested, is partly why they closed that part of the complex down). More significantly, 35 mm – which occasionally had some films worth seeing – has taken to dubbing its films into Russian in place of subtitles. Or showing French films in black and white about nothing happening somewhere very dull. Who cares about what happens in black and white in France when I have a deadline?

Even the DVD stocks are running low. Many DVDs here don’t have English, and a lot of those which say they do don’t. I make them check it in the shop. It can all get very huffy and puffy as the default position is that giving the customer what he wants is an inconvenience in the order of the Leningrad Blockade. But I persist, and think nothing of abandoning these urban cave dwellers in their noisy, lurid abodes surrounded by a sea of opened DVDs and cellophane wrapping.

Basically, I’m reduced to watching what I can find rather than what I want.

My Mom’s New Boyfriend (cf. real English: mother) is a patchwork quilt of irreconcilable contradictions and impossibilities. Meg Ryan is Colin Hanks’ mother? I don’t think so. And caught-and-convicted art thieves (Banderas) go to prison for a long time even if they are good looking and natty dressers. These are just facts.

Colin Hanks has to play the straight man to his mother’s (colonial English: mom’s) excesses. It must have been very tedious for him. To spend an entire film trying to stop Meg Ryan from having a good time seems, well, weird. And if you add to this that he also keeps fending off the advances of his very attractive fiancée – here: Selma Blair – then the credibility of his character for me drops down to zero.

Central to the plot is the fact that Hanks and Blair are FBI agents. Subordinate to this is the fact that they tell Banderas that they are. I don’t mix in those kind of circles, but I strongly suspect that if you are an FBI agent and someone asks you what you do for a living the answer should be something which omits both the words “FBI” and “agent”.

But who cares about all that? If you want to watch this film, just unplug your critical faculties – in fact, your brain in general – from the rest of your nervous system and sip the Kool-Aid.

Out-of-five star ratings:

  • Story:   **
  • Acting:   ***
  • Substance: *
  • Film craft:   ***


Story comments: silly but funny in a few places.

Acting comments: I fail to see how the term acting can apply here. Laurence Olivier acted, Kenneth Branagh acts. Here we have stock characters performing functions clearly derived from the output of a piece of screenplay-writing software. Do they perform their functions professionally? Yes, I suppose so. Is it acting? Dunno.

Substance comments: if your mother starts reliving her adolescence at the age of 45, don’t fight it. Just leave her alone until the menopause kicks in.

Film craft comments: professionally made. All the ends join up adequately.

A taste of the story: to catch a thief the hero must spy on his mother (mom).

Published by The Moscow News.

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