Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? movie full length review - The Blandest Episode of 'American Horror Story' Ever
I'm sure the executives at Lifetime were proud of themselves when they green-lit the remake of "Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?" "We're letting everyone know we're in on the joke!
How cool are we right now?" one of them might have crowed. "And we got James Franco!" another one probably squealed. "Tori and Ivan are also on board, but of course they would be, amiright?" I'll admit I was kind of looking forward to this, too, but there were a few things that made me apprehensive, starting with the the discovery that our heroine would be in the clutches of a lesbian vampire, not a dangerously possessive boyfriend. (Christ, does *everything* have to be about vampires and zombies now?) But what really had me wary was that 2016's "Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?" was, unlike the original, going to be intentionally campy.
I thought the campiness the 1996 original was largely overstated (Lifetime's "Drew Peterson: Untouchable" delivered far more camp thrills for my basic cable dollar). That said, the original "Mother, May I...?" is still a hoot, and it's fun because everyone involved was so earnest. For me, it's that lack of self-awareness that's essential for elevating a movie or TV show from a mere fiasco to a camp classic. When "Valley of the Dolls" was brought to the big screen, the studio thought they were making a hard hitting drama. "Mommie Dearest" was supposed to be Oscar bait. "The Swarm" was meant to be the ultimate disaster movie, instead of just a disaster. But the remake/re- imagining of "Mother, May I...?" is *trying* to be campy from the get-go, and the result is predictably underwhelming.
Most underwhelming of all is James Franco. If ever there's an actor working today who's worthy of being called the New Nicolas Cage, it's Franco, who can deliver Oscar-caliber performances ("127 Hours") and then go bats--t crazy ("Spring Breakers") without breaking a sweat. But like Cage, Franco doesn't always go nuts when we need him to. Just as Cage phoned it in on "Left Behind," Franco, as a director of a college production of "Macbeth," is literally sitting on the sidelines in "Mother, May I...?", doing little more than offering a few winking asides to the TV audience. Tori Spelling, cast as the mother this time out, does what she can to make lightning strike twice, but most of the camp value she brings to the screen has less to do with her performance--which is OK--and more to do with her being Tori Spelling, Reality Show Joke/Tabloid Punching Bag. Ivan Sergei, whose performance as the psycho boyfriend in the original was so much fun, is cast in the more subdued role of a college literature professor.
It should be noted that "Mother, May I...?" is technically proficient, with better acting (notably Leila George, who's sleeping with danger, and Emily Meade, the danger with whom she's sleeping) and better direction by Melanie Aitkenhead (not James Franco, as was reported at one time), than the original. However, the script, by Amber Coney from "the twisted mind of" James Franco, is ho-hum, Franco's mind not nearly twisted enough. At the end of the day, the movie plays like a bland episode of "American Horror Story," with all the gratuitous nudity, over-the-top performances, and bitchy lines that make *that* show fun cut out.