The first thing you ought to notice about this sweet, odd indie film is the set. Because that’s where director Azazel Jacobs started: he wanted to make a movie in his parents’ confoundingly cluttered, endlessly quirky, rent-controlled lower Manhattan apartment. It’s crammed to the rafters with out of print books, records, tapes, 8 tracks and CDs, VHS tapes, dancing robots, spiral notebooks, and just about everything else most people would get rid of over the years. I think a soul – the right soul – could watch “Momma’s Man” muted, paying no attention to the plot or characters, happily scanning the detritus for gems and lost jewels.
Jacobs didn’t just set his new movie in his childhood home, he cast his parents — as his character’s parents. His character — the only place where he establishes distance is by casting Matt Boren in this role — has returned home for some undisclosed reason, and finds that he can’t leave. First, his flight is delayed. Then he starts to make up reasons why he needs to stay a few extra days. On the other end of the phone is his increasingly desperate wife, trying to comfort their baby daughter. Then it appears as if, quite literally, he cannot leave the apartment, no matter how hard he tries. I think that’s called agoraphobia.
But remember that it’s not a normal place he hates to leave – it’s this incredible, horrible, amazing apartment. It must’ve really been something to grow up in a place like this. It seems to have only passing similarities to the rest of the world. I think if I had been born into a home like that, I might have a hard time leaving, as well.
“Momma’s Man” doesn’t have much of a plot, and might’ve worked better as a short movie – but then who would watch it? I think about 45 minutes would’ve been its ideal running time, but instead, it stretches — it doesn’t really drag, it just extends — for 94 minutes. If you get bored, you can always just scan the walls, shelves and even ceilings of that incredible apartment.