Missing: Nicolas Cage, 54. Last seen in 2010’s Kick Ass? No, I don’t mean the physical being Nicolas Cage. Not Nicolas Cage: the vessel. I’m referring to Nicolas Cage: the spirit. The same spirit that’s screaming “Not the bees!” in 2006’s The Wicker Man remake. The same spirit that threatened two old ladies at gun point in Bad Lieutenant (2009), or the spirit in cult-classic Vampire’s Kiss (1988) that dazzles and amazes by simply reciting the alphabet.
Nicolas Cage the vessel has been working regularly in those intermittent years, grinding away with lacklustre scripts, and in the case of Left Behind (2014) – completely phoning in a performance (but then again, if you’ve seen the film, who would blame him?). Forgive me for saying so, but I was starting to believe he just didn’t have it in him anymore. Or maybe he just didn’t care to. Either way, there has been a Cage-sized chasm in my life, and I’ve been waiting for the movie to fill it. Well, you can take that wide-eyed, maniacal grin off the milk cartons now, because at least for around 90 minutes, he’s back!
In Mom and Dad, Cage plays a bored father to two children; a mischievous young son (Zackary Arthur) and a bratty teenage girl (Anne Winters). He’s struggling with growing old, becoming an empty, almost drone-like being, constantly going through the motions day after day. He longs for his old ‘tasche and Trans-Am days. The Mojitos and motorboat days. His frustrations taken out musically on a self-made pool table that just won’t level out.
His wife (Selma Blair) is in a similar position. She was once young, fit and beautiful – a former model. Life after having two children has rendered her (in her eyes) an old useless hag. Of course, not really, but to her her young self has died and been replaced with something she doesn’t recognise or appreciate. The resentment towards their children is already there, if only just festering under the surface, ready to burst.
Then comes the hook of the entire film. A strange epidemic sweeps the nation. All of a sudden, all parents are overcome with a passionate urge to murder their own children by any means necessary, often in the most brutal, gruesome, and funny scenes (you may never listen to Roxette’s It Must Have Been Love in the same way again). Cage and Blair’s Mom and Dad are not exempt from the rapidly spreading mind-disease, and so begins a cat and mouse chase, somehow confined to a single house, where their children must use every trick in Kevin McCallister’s playbook to survive.
The action is fast and rapid, interspersed occasionally with slow-motion cuts to really amp up the impact. The dialogue is snappy, and often funny. Cage and Blair flip back and forth between loving couple and murderous, rampaging parents so naturally you might think they had done this before.
Cage is the old Cage. The all-singing, all-dancing, nutty maniac Nicolas Cage, in all his spectacular glory. If the spirit of Nicolas Cage has been lying dormant in recent years, I hope Mom and Dad is the flame that lights the powder keg of magnificence for many years to come. Mom and Dad may not win any oscars but I promise you won’t be bored watching it for a moment.