Thursday, November 06, 2008

cinema obscura: George Gallo's "My Mom's New Boyfriend" (2008)

Meg Ryan, meet Michelle Pfeiffer.

One of Ryan's more recent efforts, George Gallo's "My Mom's New Boyfriend" (which has a 2008 release date stamped on it), quietly surfaces on the Lifetime channel at 9 p.m., on Saturday, November 8th, and without ever having played theatrically in the United States.

The dubious journey of this sort-of romantic comedy, which also stars the estimable Antonio Banderas, Selma Blair and Colin Hanks, echoes what happened earlier this year with Pfeiffer's direct-to-DVD "I Could Never Be Your Woman," which was directed by Amy Heckerling and co-star Paul Rudd. The Lifetime playdate is timed to coincide with the film's DVD release. "My Mom's New Boyfriend" also had a splattering of European engagements - in such places as Turkey, Greece, Poland and Coatia.

What's going on here? Direct-to-DVD is not exactly a new phenomenom, at least for borderline titles with B- and C-list actors. But it's difficult to a handle on the idea of films starring performers of the caliber of Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer bypassing theaters for home entertainment.

This is not necessarily a judgment of the films' respective qualities (or lack thereof); more often than not, tricky, convoluted financing is usually the reason for films like "My Mom's New Boyfriend" and "I Could Never Be Your Woman" slipping through the cracks.

"My Mom's New Boyfriend" starts out light - detailing what happens when a young FBI agent (Hanks) is assigned to scrutinize his own mother Ryan) when she takes up with a shady guy (Banderas) - and grows more serious in tone (when mom starts to feel betrayed by people on all sides). Blair (as Hanks' fiancée) and Ryan share snappy repartee that keep matters frothy as the film itself morphs into something else.

The title "My Mom's New Boyfriend" makes this sound like a family-friendly film about a tween trying to sabotage his/her mom's new relationship. Prior to release on DVD (and on Lifetime), it was alternately titled "Homeland Security," "More Than You Know" and "My Spy." All lousy.

Note in Passing: Back in the early '90s, Gallo directed "Trapped in Paradise," with Nicolas Cage, Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey, and "29th Street," with Danny Aiello, Anthony LaPaglia and Lainie Kazan.

Where's he been?

Cinema Obscura is a recurring feature of The Passionate Moviegoer, devoted to those films that have been largely forgotten. Suggestions welcome.

(Artwork: Dustjacket art for the new DVD release of "My Mom's New Boyfriend")


Mike G. said...

I can't believe that this movie wouldn't have attracted some kind of audience with that cast. Weird.

Daryl Chin said...

This is happening a lot.

This past week (on Thursday, Nov. 13), the Hallmark Channel showed THE STONE ANGEL. Now, this was a Canadian movie from about four years ago, which never had a release in this country. At the time, there was some publicity about the movie, because it had a large cast, including Kevin Zegers (who had just finished TRANSAMERICA which was getting a lot of publicity) and Ellen Page (a young Canadian actress who was starting to get some buzz, this was two years before JUNO), and the star was Ellen Burstyn.

And then... nothing. I had no idea if the movie was even finished! And then, four years later, it's on The Hallmark Channel (and it was such a fluke... it's actually not on the official schedule for the Hallmark Channel) and i missed the beginning because i didn't even know it was on (i was channel-surfing during a commercial break on something else...). But here's an example of something that i thought would get released, and it never happened.

And so movies with Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, Ellen Burstyn are being dumped, so we have no idea what's happening in terms of people's careers.

joe baltake said...


It's amazing about what opens a film now - and what doesn't (or should I say, who doesn't).

Actually, "The Stone Angel" opened in New York last July 11th. Here's the link for Stephen Holden's review:

I also believe it played in Los Angeles, but I'm not sure.

Daryl Chin said...

Thanks for the info, it completely slipped by when it had its brief run in NYC.

But this is also tied into what's happening with "indie" films. In the past month, i simply stopped going to any screenings, because i'm being inundated with documentaries. Nothing wrong with that, but it gets wearisome.

And sometimes (ok i'm shallow) i want to see movie stars, a good story, a bit of flash. That's why it's fun to watch TCM, especially for things like the Star of the Month, when you get to see someone like Carole Lombard go through all the stages of her career. But nowadays, it's hard for movies to get any attention without some sort of media push. (And that goes for indie films as well: there are certain people who, for various reasons, are now critical darlings, and their films get praised like there's no tomorrow, and most people go to them, and think, huh? And this has made people stop going to indie films, so even if there's a good one, no one trusts the critics anymore. I don't want to be harsh, but though i happen to like them, most of the recent Gus Van Sant movies - like GERRY, ELEPHANT, LAST DAYS - were like that, but they were praised and then people i know who weren't film critics went to them and found them boring.) So even if it's reviewed, a lot of the reviews in the NY Times are short takes which are bunched together, and if you don't actively seek it out, too bad.

Joe Nilo said...

For some reason, the Burt Lancaster movie "The Swimmer" popped into my mind while reading about Carrie Snodgrass (who wasn't in the movie). I haven't seen it in years. Would you consider this "cinema obscura"?

I didn't realize Frank Perry was still being punished for "Mommie Dearest". That would probably explain why "David and Lisa" is still largely ignored.

Just found your blog today so I have a lot of catching up to do. Great blog.