TULLY, A MOVIE ABOUT BEING A MOM
No, this is not Sully, the movie about the pilot who landed the jet on the Hudson River. And after seeing the movie, I can tell you that they could have called this movie a lot of other things, so why they insisted on calling it Tully is not something you will find out in this review, although the name does have some significance to the movie, but if I told you what that is, it would be a spoiler.
Tully had its Hollywood premiere on April 18 in Los Angeles at the Regal Theatre. Written by Diablo Cody (Juno), directed by Jason Reitman (Juno) and starring Charlize Theron, Tully is the story of a woman, Marlo, who has just given birth to her third child, Mia, while trying to keep a semblance of the person she was for most of her life, a beautiful, funny and fun-seeking girl.
Something happened to Marlo after her second child, Jason, who developed or was born with serious mental problems. Marlo had depression after his birth and neither of them has fully recovered.
Marlo if is fed up. Her body is this machine that needs constant care just to keep working, ballooning up 50 pounds with another person inside it, then becoming a milk factory to feed and care for this crying, lovable, shitty, sucking baby that needs you 24/7. Tully does for motherhood what Saving Private Ryan did for soldiering – it took it out of the dream factory and put it into the real factory where things get down and dirty. It made war real as Tully makes motherhood real. Mothers gain weight while pregnant and most don't lose it. Breast-feeding babies is hard work and often hurts. And no matter how progressive we think our times are, women still have most of the household duties, including caring for the kids. When Marlo goes off for a night on the town, her husband instinctively says that she has never left the kids alone like that before. When he is reminded that he was home with them, he responds, 'oh, yeah, right.'
Her husband, Drew (in a fine performance by Ron Livingston), tries to help, but he has a job and spends all of his spare time fantasizing he is in charge as he zaps bad guys in video games. Her brother (Mark Duplass) has hit the jackpot in America, having the right job at the right time that makes him rich. As a present, he offers her a 'night nanny,' a caretaker who comes over at night to allow a mother to get some rest.
Enter "Tully", a 26-year-old stand in for Diablo Cody – she's smart, funny, caring, understanding, quirky – you saw Juno, right? Tully is Marlo's Savior (yes, capitol S because that is what she really is, grace from God). Tully takes over and suddenly, everything goes right for Marlo. She is once again becoming the woman who started this journey three kids, fifty pounds and one nervous breakdown ago. Tully is cleaning the house, making cupcakes for the kids to take to school and even joining Marlo in bed to help revive her husband's fast fading attraction for her. Wait, wait – she what? Yep, she does. Or maybe...
It all comes to a head when that night on the town with Tully turns into a near death experience. There is an accident and Marlo is almost killed. It is at this moment that the movie loses its way and decides to put on a glitzy sequined sexy gown to cover its gritty but honest overalls. Everything that happened to Marlo for the several weeks that this movie shows of her life is reduced to one shamefully lurid fact.
Of course, the movie probably got made because of that last-minute turn-around. It’s the kind of thing that has made huge hits of other, rather mundane and much less deserving movies. In fact, you can almost say that Tully has stolen an idea from a very successful movie of yesteryear. But hey, who remembers yesterday let alone yesteryear?
Go see Tully. It's 90 minutes of great acting, fine directing, good writing – and 4 minutes of thinking - oh no, I wish they had just let this movie be what it is, a fine movie about what it takes to be a mom. It’s a really good movie - until it isn’t.
And they should have waited to release it on – that's right, Mother's Day.
Running time: 94 MIN.
PRODUCTION: A Focus Features release of a Bron Studios, Right of Way Films, Denver and Delilah Productions prod. Producers: Diablo Cody, A.J. Dix, Helen Estabrook, Aaron L. Gilbert, Beth Kono, Mason Novick, Jason Reitman, Charlize Theron. Executive producers: Jason Blumenfeld, Jason Cloth, David Gendron, Ali Jazayeri, Ron McLeod, Andrew Pollack, Paul Tennyson, Stan Thomas, Dale Wells.
CREW: Director: Jason Reitman. Screenplay: Diablo Cody. Camera (color, widescreen): Eric Steelberg. Editors: Stefan Grube.
WITH: Charlize Theron, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Duplass, Ron Livingston, Emily Haine, Elaine Tan.