DVD Review - Helicopter Mom

Directed by Salomé Breziner, the movie obviously mocks the titular character, but the performance of the main actress is so strong that one can't help but side with her in certain situations. Written by Duke Tran, the movie on its face is for young or teenage, gay men struggling to come out, but it's not. This movie is actually for teens who are perhaps bisexual or questioning their sexuality. It's super progressive. LGBT are the base letters for the non-heterosexual and non-cisgender community, yet over the years those letters have expanded. Some iterations have been LGBTQ with the Q often standing for queer or questioning, referring to those who don't conform to gender stereotypes or those who don't identify with a specific orientation. This movie is more for people who slip under that Q umbrella.

The movie's goal ultimately is to dispel the common misconception that just because a person might be bisexual or questioning doesn't mean he or she is gay. That's the easy judgment. It's also the judgment of the titular character, Maggie Cooper, played by Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding). She's of course brash and sassy. She's liberal and her foils are uptight, conservative ladies who are prim and proper. Whereas those ladies would never embrace a gay child, Maggie does so with all gusto.

However, it does show that there can be a kind of bigotry or prejudice with left-leaning people who are seemingly progressive and so open-minded. These left-leaning people who accept and promote LGBTQ persons can be so consumed with accepting and promoting only the G that the other letters can be ignored or completely overlooked, if not outright denied. This can be disheartening or frustrating, which is the problem that Maggie's son faces.

Jason Dolley (Good Luck Charlie) co-stars as Lloyd Cooper who is a senior at Woodbridge High School, a fictional school in southern California. He lives with his single mom who is separated or divorced from his father. He's close to his mom because of which, but he's gotten to a point where this closeness is annoying. His mom is anticipating an empty nest and has become overbearing and clingy. Lloyd goes along, spending the whole day with her on his birthday at Venice Beach.

Lloyd has friends with whom he could have spent time on his birthday instead, but he indulges his mom. He doesn't have many friends. He has just one really. Lloyd otherwise is a private person. He's shy. He's a virgin and this doesn't go unnoticed by his mom. Therefore, Maggie questions him and he dodges the interrogation. To Maggie, these are tell-tale signs that Lloyd is gay, that he's closeted in fact, which is not a far-fetched assumption.

Mark Boone Junior (Sons of Anarchy) plays Max Cooper, the ex-husband to Maggie and father to Lloyd. He's an ex-rock star who's now washed-up playing in casinos. He looks like an ex and aging rocker. He's overweight, probably from a long life of boozing. He's got the long hair and the long beard. Both have strands of gray. He could also be described as an ex-hippie or at least a middle-aged one. Because Maggie is getting "stonewalled" by Lloyd, she sends Max to talk to their son and hopefully get answers.

What progresses is a series of conversations between Max and Lloyd that are some of the best conversations between a father and son that I've seen in a movie in a long time, if possibly ever. Both are honest and genuine, almost like two friends at a bar. Breziner rightly sets the scene between the two literally at a bar. There's no drama because there's no need for drama. It's just two guys sharing, two generations just being open, and it's great. It's also sweet and touching.

Skyler Samuels (Scream Queens) plays Carrie, the head cheerleader and one of the most beautiful girls at the school. She has English class with Lloyd and she really likes his poetry. She's turned away by the school jock and buff bully named Brad, played by Scott Shilstone (Drumline: A New Beat). She's clearly interested and pursues Lloyd, despite realizing his questioning sexuality.

The problem is that Lloyd's so-called questioning of his sexuality is just that. It's "so-called." The questioning is only given lip-service. There is one brief moment when Lloyd stares at a shirtless, soccer player with an amazingly gorgeous body named Drew, played by Spencer Neville (Days of Our Lives). Other than that, he resists any same-sex attraction, almost to a homophobic degree, and that's disappointing.

If his character has fallen in love or lust with Carrie, that's fine, but Lloyd almost gravitates toward Carrie more out of defiance than anything else. Where Tran perhaps missteps is the idea for Maggie to try to force Lloyd into blind dates with guys, basically trying to force him into being gay or out him in public situations. I understand that it's a send-up of numerous gay films where the mom tries to put her potentially gay son on blind dates with girls. Maggie is doing the same thing as the other moms on the opposite side of the political aisle.

It's a great point for the movie to make, but it's ultimately bad because the movie never allows Lloyd to explore his possible, same-sex attraction. If he's questioning, truly questioning, then the movie should have allowed us to see him questioning it. Carrie pursues Lloyd, but why not have Drew pursue Lloyd? There's a moment at the prom when Lloyd kisses one of his mom's blind dates, a boy named Dan, played by Kurt Collins, but again it's done out of defiance and then kisses Carries as almost a middle finger to her.

The movie is only 80 minutes in length. I doubt that it would have killed the production if the filmmakers took five or ten minutes to explore Lloyd's same-sex attraction, genuinely and honestly, separate from his mom. The tail end of the movie assumes that will happen, but again the movie abandons that opportunity for a cheap joke with Maggie being her anxious and hovering self.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains mature themes.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 23 mins.


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