‘He­li­copter Mom’ barges in

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - — Michael Recht­shaf­fen

Get past the wince-in­duc­ing premise of “He­li­copter Mom,” in which an over­bear­ing mother outs her sex­u­ally un­de­clared son as gay so that he qual­i­fies for a col­lege schol­ar­ship, and you’re still stuck with a forced com­edy that mines un­easy hu­mor from stale stereo­types.

Voted “Most In­volved” in her old high school year­book, ti­tle char­ac­ter Maggie Cooper (Nia Varda­los) takes that sta­tus to heart as a con­stant em­bar­rass­ment to her son Lloyd (Ja­son Dolley), whose sex­ual iden­tity is­sues are con­sid­ered a done deal by his ban­ner-wav­ing mom.

Di­rected by Salomé Breziner from a dated script by Duke Tran, the film’s idea of pro-LGBT dia­logue takes the form of one-lin­ers like “My son’s not gay — he doesn’t like pesto!”

Those groan­ers prove try­ing for the typ­i­cally ef­fer­ves­cent Varda­los, who’s of­ten por­trayed in ex­ag­ger­ated close-ups that push her char­ac­ter from wildly in­ap­pro­pri­ate to wildly un­sym­pa­thetic.

Stripped of all the broad shtick, there are ten­der mo­ments to be found in can­did con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Lloyd and his aging rocker dad (nicely played by “Sons of An­ar­chy’s” Mark Boone Ju­nior). Those scenes are so tonally dis­sim­i­lar from ev­ery­thing else they feel like they could have been part of a dif­fer­ent movie.

Or maybe that’s just wish­ful think­ing. “He­li­copter Mom.” No MPAA rat­ing. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 24 min­utes. Play­ing: Arena Cinema, Hol­ly­wood.

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