“Otherhood” – Review (Familiar But Certainly Fun)

Otherhood (2019) Poster“Otherhood” is now streaming on Netflix starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, and Felicity Huffman as mothers and longtime friends, with no husbands in the picture. After feeling forgotten on Mother’s Day, they decide to drive to New York to surprise their adult sons and to reconnect. But naturally it doesn’t go very smooth. Relationships have changed and dynamics have as well. Their sons do learn more about their feelings for their mothers. However, these three moms learn a great deal about themselves as well after blunt self-discovery makes the vision of their own unfulfilled lives much clearer.

This certainly isn’t a film aimed at my demographic. That’s what I told myself going into this one. As a man in my VERY early 40’s I was in fact able to connect with the perspective of the son’s in this story. Enough to engage me in the exploration of the relationships with their mothers. So, for that aspect I was able to invest in this movie much more than expected. It isn’t incredibly ambitious, but it’s heartwarming, without being too heartwarming. The progression is formulaic, and the arc’s in the story show themselves very early on. But with the charming performances from Bassett, Arquette, and Huffman, it was still an enjoyable film to watch in the comfort of your home

If you watch the trailer you can get a clear picture of what this film is going to deliver. It doesn’t stray far from that feel-good drama, with strong splashes of comedy. Not all the attempts at humor land but many do. The dialogue has many clever moments that doesn’t force it, and it results in lighthearted amusement. That I thought complemented the dramatic beats of the script nicely. There are also a few spots of situational humor worked in that had me laughing pretty good, and I wasn’t expecting that in this one to be honest. Added with a run-time that doesn’t stick around too long, the blend of comedy with the dramatic plot-points keeps it upbeat and not heavy-handed.

Relationship dynamics explored here have been seen before, but the performances do make the most of them. There was a clear effort that did create some authenticity to the characters. I was able to connect with them to stay interested. The chemistry between Bassett, Arquette, and Huffman was perfect for the needs of their roles. I was able to feel the history between them, and the sisterly bond they had which did help make the most out of the story. I wouldn’t say it had me emotionally intrigued. But it captured my attention and that’s a success for a film that isn’t necessarily in my wheelhouse.

It was a collection of plug-and-play tropes, but each relationship had its own history and backdrop that was different enough from the others. They evolve on their own course and it’s serviceable in terms of engaging storytelling. Arquette and Huffman brought a lot of emotional energy to the film. As did Angela Bassett who I loved in this role. Her dynamic with her son was the most intriguing of the three layers to the story and seeing her turn on the emotional intensity was very compelling to see. I think she captured the screen with each scene, and she certainly elevated the material with the delivery of each line. I think this also brought out the best in Sinqua Walls who was able to create an excellent timing with Bassett to sell their connection.

There was also a nice collection of side characters to pop in here and there with some comical lines and moments. I thought they did a good job of pulling the mood up from the dramatic side when needed to keep the flow going. So, despite feeling like other films in the genre and not breaking itself from the mold it was still enjoyable. I think the cast could have done more with their roles, but it was clear the intent of this one was to be on the lighter side so for that aspect it succeeds. It’s warm and lighthearted with frequent laughs and hits its more serious beats without ever feeling sappy or melodramatic. Despite not being overly memorable.


GRADE: 70%


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