Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Thelma Adams Asks, ‘Where’s Momma?’

posted by Nell Minow

US Magazine critic Thelma Adams has a blog post about one of the most common questions I get asked: where are the parents in movies about kids?  She quotes my comments:

Nell Minow, the Movie Mom, told me “This is the second-most frequent question I get asked by parents (first is: I am so careful with my kids, but what do I do when they go over to someone else’s house?)”

The answer, Minow continued, referencing Tom and Huck, Pippi Longstocking, and David Copperfield, et. al., is that “if the parents are there, the child can’t have an adventure. They’d be saying, ‘You can’t go on the yellow brick road today — you have homework, and you need a sweater!’ The satisfying fantasy of the story is that the child is able to do what the child in the audience would like to feel he can do — to master the scary adult world.”


She still doesn’t like it though, and wonders how many more parts there would be for mature actresses if the movies allowed more of their young characters to have moms.  And privately, we agreed that even though we loved “Finding Nemo,” the beginning is wrenching.






  • Thelma Adams

    As a mother, I just hate to see “my” death as a plot device. It just comes up again and again. I was surprised to see that at the root of Magneto’s rage in X-Men: First Class was a Nazi shooting his mother in cold blood right in front of the young mutant. And then SPOILER ALERT in Super 8 it’s an example of scalpel-like storytelling that the movie opens at the dead mother’s wake. She’s already toast, the victim of a horrible factory accident, leaving behind only a symbol, her necklace.

    There are other things that as a mother I find equally difficult. Movies — and books – like The Lovely Bones that begin with the death of a child have to be really, really good in order to keep my interest. On AMC, the series THE KILLING is like that. In certain episodes, the mother’s epic grief over her daughter’s murder made me almost leave the room.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment monkie

    There is almost always a death of a parent in children’s films, and most of the time it’s the mother who gets offed (with a few notable exceptions). As hard as this is to deal with for us moms, I find it particularly insulting to the fathers. The message seems to be that, as long as mom is gone, the child is basically free to have whatever misadventures he pleases, because the father isn’t competent enough to stop him. Ouch.

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