Honeymoon With My Mother Movie Review: A subpar film that is neither comedy nor drama
The central problem is that it isn’t totally sure about what it’s trying to say. Predictable and flat on the comedic side, the drama isn’t suited to its simplistically sketched characters
Honeymoon With My Mother starts off with a premise that could have worked for a run-of-the-mill comedy-drama, but despite a base that lends itself to decent storytelling, it falls woefully below the mark. A young man gets dumped at the altar on his wedding day, as his bride-to-be is swept off her feet by her one true love. As his hyper, well-meaning mother goes into overdrive about all the needless expense so far and how she didn’t really like her daughter-in-law-to-be, José Luis (Quim Gutiérrez) seems to barely register what has just happened. One would expect him to be in shock, but the deadpan look writ large over his face tells a story. When the travel agency refuses to refund the Mauritius honeymoon package booked in advance for the newlyweds, José’s mother, Carmen (Carmen Machi), convinces him to attend his honeymoon, with her as his pretend-wife, no less.
Director – Paco Caballero
Cast – Carmen Machi, Quim Gutiérrez, Justina Bustos, Dominique Guillo, Yolanda Ramos, Juanjo Cucalon
Streaming On – Netflix
Not particularly original, but the makers could have gotten enough humour out of this one. As decent as the acting is for a film with simplistic writing, Honeymoon With My Mother falls into an uncomfortable middle ground that aces neither comedy nor drama. With the exception of Yolanda Ramos’ supporting role as the overly chatty receptionist who goes off at a tangent on her funny stories, the rest of the so-called humour is both predictable and flat. The only funny parts in the almost-two-hour film have Ramos’ character yammering away nonstop, with José Luis attempting to run for dear life. The former’s reason for joining the grand hotel (and working the honeymoon suites, in particular) is an ironic tale not dissimilar to that of José’s; the character’s distinctive delivery of personal tales no one really asked for had me grinning for minutes on end. The dramatic aspects of the narrative attempt to drive a point home, and while they do, to a certain extent, a simplified exploration of the Freudian bond between mother and son doesn’t exactly fit the film seamlessly. Carmen keeps mothering José Luis through the first half of the story, as one would a five-year-old. A scene at the beach involving sunbathing comes to mind; despite his protestations and request for space, she is seen slathering sunscreen all over his face. While this is supposedly meant to elicit laughter, it ends up giving you a cringeworthy feeling.
The primary problem with Honeymoon With My Mother is that the film isn’t totally sure about what it’s trying to say. There are some home truths we can certainly get behind, but the characters needed to be sketched better for the drama to surpass expectations. Carmen breaks her decades’ old silence on what she has endured as a wife and mother: “Your father had to work and then you were born, so we couldn’t go on our honeymoon to Paris”; “I go out of my way for you. And what do I get back in return?” She tells her son what she truly thinks of his romantic choices: “Ever wonder why they all leave you? You don’t want a girlfriend! You want a mother!”; “You fall for any girl you meet. You’re always switching girlfriends because you’re a coward who can’t be alone.” In a heated exchange, all the underlying tensions are brought to the surface, with mother and son going at each other’s throats. For it to have been a serious Oedipal take on the José-Carmen relationship, a heavily altered plot and an enhanced presentation of its main characters were the order of the day. The cast, led by Machi, Gutiérrez and a host of supporting acts, is let down by below-par writing.
Say the writing was on the same plane as its acting counterpart, Honeymoon With My Mother may well have been engaging. Its pitfalls relegate this dramedy to less-than-average territory, with most of the comedic tangles on display visible from a fair distance away. The sole highpoint in the realm of laughter is Yolanda Ramos, a perfectly cast comic relief. Be it the woman’s eyes-closed slow-dancing welcome on the honeymoon suite tour or her acceptance of a bribe (only to give the hapless José Luis completely unrelated information), she is excellent. If only one could say the same of the film!