AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2012
By Linc Leifeste | October 22, 2012
Director: Caytha Jentis
Writer: Caytha Jentis
Starring: Janeane Garofalo, Christopher Titus, Michael Boatman, Cheri Oteri, Kristen Johnston, Reiko Aylesworth, Bill Sage, Rebecca Budig, Bradley White
Bad Parents, director Caytha Jentis’ second feature-film directorial effort, is a black comedy focusing on the insanity prevalent in competitive youth sports leagues, in this case girls’ soccer. The film is heavy on dialogue, which makes sense considering that it was originally written for the stage under the title It’s All for the Kids, but I found it to be a bit short on character development and lacking in focus. For my tastes, the film had a bi-polar quality, jumping back and forth from hilarious scenes featuring sharp, witty dialogue to clunky scenes that seemed to linger too long with the feel of the film fluctuating between edgy, over-the-top black comedy and more standard TV-sitcom fare.
Kathy (Janeane Garofalo) has recently made the soul-numbing transition to a life as a stay-at-home suburban dwelling mom, endlessly buried in laundry and chores but after she signs up her seven-year-old daughter up for youth club soccer, it’s her descent into soccer-mom hell that is the focus of the film. While seemingly aware of the insanity of parents having their lives subsumed by competing to guarantee their kids thrive on the A-team roster versus being banished to the “loser” B-team role, Kathy is still drawn in like a moth to the fire. The “man behind the curtain,” so to speak, is Coach Nick, played hilariously to over-the-top perfection by Christopher Titus. Portrayed as a sad-sack sports failure, he’s now expending his competitive energy and pursuing his dreams vicariously by cracking the whip in his interactions with both the players and the parents.
I’ll give Bad Parents a lot of credit for its casting. The performances throughout are solid; it’s just a shame that they’re not in the service of a stronger film. While the performances and dialogue generate their fair share of laughs, the film ultimately doesn’t satisfy, never effectively building up to the darkly twisted ending that it delivers.