Serial Mom

Not quite top-grade John Waters (1994), but with Kathleen Turner offering the first top-grade star turn in a Waters picture since the death of Divine there’s little cause for complaintjust a bit of awkwardness around the edges of this satire about the American worship and domestication of serial killers, plus several other Waters hobbyhorses. Turner plays a happy, wholesome mom in suburban Baltimore who happens to bump off everyone she gets irritated withand given that this is a Waters picture, that’s a lot of folks. Sam Waterston is her husband and Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard play their kids, while the many walk-ons include Mink Stole, Patricia Hearst, Traci Lords, and Suzanne Somers. There’s a lot of ribbing of both police procedurals and Hitchcock productions, and, though it isn’t fashionable to say so, the movie’s comedy is also assisted by its libertarian-humanist politics (for gory movies and against capital punishment). The results are nothing momentous, but still loads of fun. R, 93 min. (JR)

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