It’s been making the rounds at the country’s most important LGBTQ film fests (receiving the Alan Ira Dusowitz Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival), recently had its European premiere, and is now available on VOD and digital platforms including Amazon Prime and iTunes. With a stellar cast that features Kathryn Erbe (Law and Order: Criminal Intent) and Kathy Najimy (Veep, Hocus Pocus), Mike Roma’s Dating My Mother is clearly a movie not to be missed.
By Jennifer Parker
Oh, what to watch? On the surface, Dating My Mother: You Better Swipe Right, seems like “pick a trope” from Column A: Single Mom (divorced or widowed); Column B: Only child, recent college grad, gay, cute AF; Column C: New Jersey or Westchester; Column D: Drugs or alcohol. But wait a hot second, writer/director Mike Roma isn’t going to make it so easy for us. It’s subtext that’s kept this film percolating in my mind for the past couple of weeks; no easy hat trick when I’ve seen over fifty movies in the last thirty days. (Yes, I’ve been described as “vampire” pale. I’m not sure if it’s a compliment, an insult or a concern.)
Besides being cute AF, our hero Danny (Patrick Reilly) is gay AF and though he had no problem as an only child individuating from his mother, Joan (Kathryn Erbe), to successfully complete college, he’s recently graduated and is shacking up in the master bedroom with his mommy. Danny claims he can’t sleep in his own room because his mattress is suboptimal, but it’s clear that Oedipus doesn’t fall far from Joan. This could fall under the trope of Millennial boomerangs to the upper-middle-class nest in suburban New Jersey, but uh-uh. Would it be spoiling to tell you that Danny power-walks with his widowed mom, does yoga, drinks red wine and helps her create an online dating profile? Of course, he’s an aspiring screenwriter and has a crush on a friend (Michael Rosen) whose sexuality is ambiguous to him.
Please stay with me; I was charmed and you will be too. This film definitely has a niche audience. Anyone who’s lost a mother or father and has had to navigate the dating life of the widowed parental unit will relate. It doesn’t matter how old you were when your parent started dating, it’s an emotional shit-show. Anyone who’s ricocheted home after college and is trying to establish boundaries with their parent(s) as roommates versus well, parents, this is a good one for ya. Anyone who is gay but hasn’t quite honed their gaydar—bingo. But here’s the thing that a lot of people don’t get: A crush is a crush is a crush. By definition, they are unrequited and almost always one-sided.
What keeps the film fresh is the realness of the relationship between Danny and Joan. Things aren’t perfect. When he lets her down, she expects him to rise up. Danny may be privileged but he isn’t spoiled. She wants to love her son unconditionally but she doesn’t have to like him and makes it clear that her friendship isn’t his birthright.
DATING MY MOTHER is now available on VOD and streaming/digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon Prime, Vimeo, YouTube, Fandango, Microsoft, GooglePlay, and Vudu. For more information, visit datingmymother.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Jennifer Parker is a Manhattan-based writer and editor-in-chief of StatoRec. Her film criticism, author profiles, and poetry have appeared in Fjord’s Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Quiet Lunch, and Pank Magazine. She has also contributed photography to At Large Magazine. Follow her on Twitter and on Instagram at @jenparker12345.