The trailer for Motherhood (Freestyle Releasing, October 16), starring Uma Thurman as a harried New York City mom of two prepping for her daughter’s sixth birthday party, is now online, and it pretty much delivers, in beat-by-beat fashion, everything you’d expect based on the above logline: playground quibbles, rumpled clothing, appropriately distracted line readings. Minnie Driver is the best friend; Anthony Edwards is the husband whose impassioned, sensitive-guy speech of reconnection/reconciliation is given away about three-fifths of the way through the trailer.
It was perhaps inevitable that Thurman would end up in something like this, which might slot nicely alongside One Fine Day as a modern-mom DVD double feature, if only there were the time for such a thing. Thurman’s timing is so completely crackerjack that she’s a natural fit for studio genre product, but I still feel like her best work is a bit off the beaten path, in stuff with more complicated motivations and less cleanly delineated emotional mooring. Those striking eyes help her capture and convey the oblique in a way that a lot of actors and actresses simply cannot. Prime was halfway an attempt at something at once poppy and scruffy, with some real-world edges if not really grit, but it didn’t really work. Still, there
Selling only one thing, and to one audience, the poster is a garish thing seemingly straight out of the 1980s… actually, I take that back. It’s effectively, attractively streamlined. The background color (reading, quite literally, caution) is what makes it feel like a home video box. But the 1980s version would have a lot more clutter — bottles, baby strollers and the like, plus something in her hair.
Thurman elicits sympathy and smiles, and the trailer evidences a pinch of wit in some of its dialogue, but the movie seems saddled with by-the-numbers direction through and through. What makes one most wince, of course, are the squealing bus tires used to cover up the intimation of profanity (a tired trailer foley trick that should be permanently retired, unless used ironically) and, to perhaps an only slightly lesser extent, the obligatory dancing-in-the-kitchen scene, which probably pegs the moment that Thurman’s character recaptures her chi, or groove, or creativity or whatever the movie is calling it. I again wonder, though: since The Big Chill, has anyone over 14 ever danced unselfconsciously about their home with another person?