Saturday, 9 March 2013

Top 10 Worst Movie Mothers

The movie of the week over at Film Vituperatum this week is Psycho, hence why I posted a review of it yesterday, and seeing as it is Mother's Day this Sunday the two events seemed to coincide far too perfectly for me to not create a Top 10 list in celebration. I was a little unsure of which direction to take this in, but then I considered that the mother in Psycho probably wouldn't have sat too well on a list of the all time greatest movie mothers, so forgive me but this is a more negative view of cinematic matriarchs. So here is my run down of the movie mothers that make me oh so very grateful for the one I ended up with, as opposed to any of these raving bags of lunacy.

Now as it turned out Psycho's Mrs. Bates didn't make an appearance on this list, as all she was really guilty of parenting-wise was maybe loving her son a little too much - something which a member of this list attempted to take a bit further. Also, any US readers who may have gotten terrified of the mention of it being Mother's Day this Sunday should not be overly concerned; we celebrate it a couple of months earlier than you guys, so you've still got until May to buy those flowers. So, without further ado, here's my list of mothers who would at best deserve a hastily purchased card from a petrol station, if that.

Honourable mention
Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
On the surface, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) doesn't seem to be too bad of a mother. She doesn't do much wrong other than get herself kidnapped and wear the same forced, frozen smile on her face for the entirety of this intolerable movie. In fact, she's done a fairly reasonable job of raising a son almost single-handedly, whilst maintaining a career along the way. Yes, that son has turned out to be Shia LaBeouf pretending to be Marlon Brando, but it could have been worse. Shia LaBeouf pretending to be Shia LaBeouf, for example. No, Marion's crime is in denying her child, Mutt Williams, of the knowledge of his father's true identity, that of [REALLY OBVIOUS SPOILER] Indiana Jones. What boy growing up wouldn't want Indy to be his father? He's possibly the coolest man in existence, and even with the lack of stability and large periods of time spent travelling the globe in search of historic artifacts and sexy historians, he'd still have been one hell of a father figure to look up to for any growing boy. Plus, she let her son go around with the nickname Mutt.

10. Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall) - The Shining
Another mother not really guilty of doing an awful lot wrong, Shelley Duvall's _ is on this list simply because she is really damn annoying. In my review of The Shining I may have been exaggerating slightly when I gave Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) a pass for going insane, seeing as he was locked up for the winter with just his crazy-ass son Danny (Danny Lloyd) and this whiny, complaining bint to keep him company, but it was only a slight exaggeration. Also, as a mother, Wendy doesn't really take much notice of her son. Of the ones on this list, she would probably be the one to cause the most embarrassment when collecting me from school or wherever, and the subsequent bullying from the other children may have been what instigated Danny's psychic powers.

9. Ruth Dewitt Bukater (Frances Fisher) - Titanic
Ruth makes the list for being entirely selfish and expecting her daughter Rose (Kate Winslet) to fix all of their family's financial woes in spite of what she'd really like to do. You see, the Dewitt Bukaters used to be very wealthy, but alas now the fortune has dwindled and, seeing as neither mother nor daughter has any skills or desire to work for a living, the only remaining option is of course to marry into wealth. Therefore Ruth has positioned her daughter in such a way that the dastardly, but more importantly filthy rich, Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) has proposed and the wedding is imminent. The only problem is that Cal is a conniving slimeball with the emotional and apathetic capacity only marginally better than that of the ill-fated boat upon which he is floating. Ruth cares nothing for the hopes and dreams of her daughter, and is willing to stop at nothing when she becomes overly friendly with Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) a man - though Ruth would never stoop to calling him that - without a penny to his name, and from steerage class no less.

8. Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) - Up in the Air
Well I suppose its a little late for spoilers there, seeing as the fact that Alex has kids and an existence outside of her jet-setting corporate lifestyle is the film's big reveal - or rather, it is just how devastating this news is to professional down-sizer Ryan Bingham (George Clooney). There were many adulterers from cinema that I could have selected for this list - and indeed, there is still a potential one to come - but Alex earned her place by being a mother who not only sleeps around, but who spends most of her time away from her family anyway, and conceals their existence from everyone she meets on the road. What makes it worse is just how likable she seemed beforehand - she was the perfect fit, that missing cog in Bingham's life that would have made him complete, but sadly it was never meant to be.

 7. Miranda Hillard (Sally Field) - Mrs. Doubtfire
If I do a list of the Top 10 Best Mothers, which I'm quite tempted to do after researching this list, then undoubtedly Sally Field will appear there for her stellar performance as Mrs. Gump, who is willing to do anything to help her son lead as normal a life as possible. However, this does nothing to prevent her from making this list, as she successfully hires a nanny to look after her three children for hours at a time, without realising that said nanny is in fact her ex-husband in disguise (Robin Williams). Now, I can concede that there are some men in the world who can very convincingly dress up like and pretend to be women (though I'm fortunate enough to have never woken up next to one), but the key element here is that Miranda was married to William's Daniel for some time (their eldest child is at least fourteen) and yet she is unable to recognise him. This is a clear case of negligence, even if Daniel is a talented voice actor, and has enlisted the help of his make-up artist brother. This woman should not have been granted sole custody of the children if she wasn't willing to properly investigate someone she was planning to hire to care for them.

6. Stifler's Mom (Jennifer Coolidge) - American Pie
I've got nothing against a large age gap in a relationship, or even a woman attempting to seduce one of her son's school friends, as long as he is of age, but where Stifler's Mom takes it a little too far is by having intercourse with her son's arch nemesis, Paul 'Shit-Break' Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and finally giving him the one-up over Stifler (Seann William Scott) that Finch has so desperately needed. Granted, Stifler is an ass, and the closest this film has to a villain, but if viewed from his perspective Finch now has the ultimate "Yeah, but" to anything that Stifler can throw at him. In the grand scheme of things, karma-wise, this is only a good thing, but as a mother it's a pretty diabolical thing to do.

5. Kate McCallister (Catherin O'Hara) - Home Alone
And now onto the big guns. Kate McCallister would definitely have earned a place on this list if she'd left her son Kevin (Macaulie Culkin) at home alone for one Christmas, as in the real world that would be justifiable enough for child services to get involved, especially when said child ended up fighting for his life against two psychopathic but fortunately cartoonishly idiotic thieves (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). What clinches it, and indeed raised her position a few notches, was when she did it again two years later, but on a far worse scale, when Kevin ended up alone in New York whilst the rest of his family are in Florida for the holidays. Now granted this second time around is more the fault of Kevin's father Peter (John Heard), and on both occasions there were enough contrivances for Kate to believe that her son - one of about a dozen family members involved in both trips - was with them the whole time, but leaving a child at home when you go on holiday is unforgivable. Even if he is a little brat who probably would have ruined the trip anyway. And to Kate's credit, she does spend several days travelling across America in a van full of polka-players just to see her son for Christmas.

4. Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley) - Drop Dead Gorgeous
There's nothing wrong with being ambitious, and wanting the best for you child, and if there's a way you can do this whilst correcting the mistakes you made in your own life, then well this is fine, up to a point. That point is when you start killing other people so that your daughter can win the same beauty pageant that you won when you were her age. Such is the case with Gladys, who is willing to take out all of the competition if it means success for her daughter Rebecca (Denise Richards). She bribes and hires all of the judges for the local pageant, of which Gladys happens to be the head, arranges for at least one of the contestants to be killed (exploding tractor) and attempts several other murders, including blowing up a trailer home and rendering a girl deaf by dropping a stage light on her. What makes it all worse is that Rebecca is devoid of any kind of talent (she dances with a Jesus statue on wheels, serenading him with "Can't Take My Eyes Off You") so one can only assumes what a self-entitled bitch she'd have become had her mother's plans been more successful.

3. Lorraine McFly, nee Baines (Lea Thompson) - Back to the Future
She tries to have sex with her son. Let's just think about that for a minute. No, wait, let's really not. Granted, the 1955 Lorraine could have no idea that this boy she is caring for in her bed will one day be birthed from her own loins, and to be honest if she'd thought that for even a second her head may have justifiably exploded, but even so. She tried to have sex with her own son! There is no getting past that!

2. Mary (Mo'Nique) -  Precious
Detailing the actual abuse Mary deals out to her daughter (Gabourey Sidibe) would not be a very entertaining read, so rest assured that it is despicable enough to earn Mary a very high position on this list. I don't really want to think about it any more, so I'm going to move on.

1. Margaret White (Piper Laurie) - Carrie
It is the role of the mother to not simply bring their children into this world, but educate and prepare them for the life they are about to lead. Margaret does a spectacularly terrible job of this, predominantly due to her strict religious beliefs, and partially because she's a nut-job. When her daughter Carrie (Sissy Spacek) encounters her first period whilst in the showers at school, the girl's instinct is that she's dying, because her mother hasn't told her what to expect. This isn't that bad though, surely? I mean, it shouldn't deserve a #1 position as the worst movie mother of all time (or at least of the films I've seen)? Well, when Carrie comes home, her mother informs her that her bleeding is a punishment for sinning, and locks her in a cupboard, forcing her to pray. And then of course, once all this maltreatment and repression have caused Carrie to develop psychic powers, Margaret tries to kill her daughter. That, ladies and gents, is why she is the worst movie mother I've ever encountered.

So did I leave anyone out? If they're a truly terrible mother, then chances are I haven't seen the film, but even so I'll take the recommendation. Let me know in the comments.


  1. Akin to Stiffler's mom, I'd suggest Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate. Nothing says family love like carrying on an affair with your daughter's potential fiance. I'm going to bet that the have really interesting Thanksgiving dinners.

    1. Yes, I was debating Mrs. Robinson, but I was under the impression the affair was stopped once Benjamin and Elaine started going out, which if anything improved her standings as a mother, even if she really should have told her child that she'd played that field before. I could be wrong, I didn't look into it.

  2. My humble suggestion would be Fran Dodsworth in "Dodsworth". When she refuse to head back to be around her daughter when she is giving birth simply because she refuse to face that she is becoming a grandmother (what would people thing - her a grandmother!!! oh dear.) I lost everything for her.

    1. I haven't seen Dodsworth yet but I hear William Wyler made good films, so I'm looking forward to crossing it off the List.

  3. I really only feel strongly about your number 1 and 2 (especially 2). The rest really do things FOR their children, even if those things are horrible. They're also mostly played for comedy, which takes the edge off. Here are some mothers that I just HATED in movies, mostly because of the bad things they do to their kids:

    Melissa Leo in The Fighter
    Brenda Blethyn in Little Voice
    Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate
    Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone
    Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment
    Barbara Hershey in Black Swan
    Gladys Cooper in Now Voyager
    Kate Harrington in Rachel Rachel
    Whoever played the mother in Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

    Monique takes the cake for absolute worst, though, with Blethyn close behind.

  4. Of these, I've only seen The Fighter, Gone Baby Gone and Black Swan, and they are all worthy candidates. I have seen Manchurian (the original) but I don't remember much about it, other than the mother was indeed horrible. And I put Margaret White above Mo'Nique in Precious because Margaret actually tries to kill her child, all though really a very good case could be made for either candidate.

  5. I think a very good example is Laura(i don't know the actress' name) from First Born. I just watched the movie and I am pretty scared...