To celebrate Mother’s Day, and take a break from showering our irl mum’s with gifts and appreciation, some SQ staffers have taken the time to fill you in on some of films greatest mothers…
When somebody asks you to name a famous on-screen mother, Mrs. Robinson probably isn’t the first name that you think of. One of the main characters of the 1967 film The Graduate, Mrs. Robinson famously seduces the much younger protagonist Benjamin, who her daughter eventually runs away with. This doesn’t sound like the ideal maternal behaviour, but in actuality Mrs. Robinson is arguably the most sympathetic character of The Graduate. Trapped in a loveless marriage, she notices Benjamin for his typical male angst and lack of motivation, correctly assuming him to be the perfect candidate for a purely sexual, non-committal relationship. What Mrs. Robinson doesn’t foresee is that her daughter, Elaine, will fall for him. She does everything in her power to try and prevent a relationship between Elaine and Benjamin, which can easily be interpreted as a manipulative and intervening move. Yet Mrs. Robinson is actually much wiser than she is given credit for, knowing that Benjamin is the type too self-involved to genuinely care for Elaine. She is the only character in the film that truly has Elaine’s best interests at heart. Although trying to force Elaine into a marriage with someone she doesn’t really love (in order to keep Benjamin out of the picture) is a huge parenting error, she really does try her best. Nobody is underappreciated quite like Mrs. Robinson. So in the spirit of celebrating mothers, let’s all spare a thought for one that taught us two very important lessons: that a woman’s sexuality doesn’t interfere with her motherhood (or vice versa), and to stay away from arrogant boys that listen to too much Simon & Garfunkel. –Georgia Berry
When it comes to movie mothers, none are quite so prolific as Mrs. George (expertly played by Amy Poehler) in Mean Girls. From supporting Regina’s choice to have sex as a teenager, or offering Cady alcohol when she visits the house, all of her outlandish and “cool mom” behaviors make this minor, supporting character a standout in what is hands down one of the most quotable movies of all time. It’s also a personal belief of mine that along with a memorable mother, she is also, dare I say it, a good mother.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… How can a woman who offers her teen daughter’s friends alcohol (on a Wednesday afternoon, no less), possibly be a good mother!? I don’t believe it’s so black and white.
Consider Regina George. Regina is used to getting what she wants and doing what she wants when she wants. She is very much a teenager whose natural instinct is to rebel. So, instead of out right banning her daughter from drinking/sex/etc, Mrs. George attempts to steer her daughter into responsible and safe decisions. Should teenagers be drinking and having sex at 17? Probably not, but Mrs. George is aware of the type of person her daughter is, and realizes that saying “No” won’t stop her.
Sure, she’s an extreme mother, but I definitely don’t think she’s a bad one. She has her daughter’s well being in mind, although her methods are unorthodox. Like, offering Regina a condom when her boyfriend was over. Or allowing her daughter and friends to drink in the house (where they can be easily monitored). She knows she can’t stop her daughter, but at least she can help keep her safe. –Tyler Dziubinski
I was trying my best this week to think of good movie mothers, and two possibilities came to mind pretty instantly. Julianne Moore as Evelyn Ryan in The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio was the first woman I thought of, but then I remembered Evelyn Ryan was an actual mother, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go in that direction. I also remembered I still hold a grudge against Julianne Moore for betraying Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right, and decided against her entirely. Frances McDormand as Miss Clavell in Madeline came to mind next, but I felt sort of iffy about thrusting the title of ‘mother’ on a woman who chooses to live as a nun. I guess ‘mother’ encompasses a lot of traits, and although Miss Clavell fits most of these, I also think calling any woman a mother for being nurturing is sort of reductive. I finally decided on Embeth Davidtz as Miss Honey in Matilda. Personal lesbian hang-ups aside, I think Miss Honey makes a great mom, and we have Matilda’s birth mother, Zinnia Wormwood, to thank for this. Though obviously not herself the model mother, Zinnia (played in the film by Rhea Perlman) recognizes her daughter is unhappy and does something about it. The film’s style and presentation don’t really encourage the viewer to see this move as a weighty sacrifice on Zinnia’s part, but still, Matilda was her daughter. That’s a pretty big thing, even just as a blow to Zinnia’s pride. I’m not advocating for mothers to throw in the towel and adopt out their unhappy daughters, but do think it beneficial for parents to consider in addition to their own needs the needs of their children. Miss Honey is great for a lot of reasons. She lets Matilda roller blade in the house, introduces her to Lissy Doll, and (most importantly) genuinely believes in Matilda and embraces her unconventionality. Miss Honey’s a victim of familial abuse herself, and understands what it’s like to be made to feel small. Miss Honey actively chooses the role of mother for herself, and makes the most of it. Now for a sequel. -Juliette Faraone
Olive Penderghast’s (Easy A) hilarious mum Rosemary is everything a comedy mum should be; a little bit rude, a little bit mad and always out to mildly embarrass her children. The premise of Easy A is one of sexual promiscuity, or supposed promiscuity, and how someone can take ownership of it, and how this effects a teen girls social standing. The greatest thing Rosemary offers to Olive’s situation is support, she doesn’t question the rumours or get angry about Olive’s supposed sexual endeavours; instead she offers a place to talk openly and a place where she can share her funny experiences of all the guys she slept with in school. It’s rare to find a sex-positive mum in your standard Hollywood film. Rosemary also teases about her same-sex experiences, making Olive more comfortable should that have been her situation too. Her light-hearted and comical approach to all advice for her children regarding relationships and sexuality is a real load-off for Olive’s mounting troubles at school. During Olive’s lowest point Rosemary even makes a comment stating how proud she is of the way she’s handling herself: “You’re wonderful. And you’ll handle this the same way I did. With an incontrovertible sense of humour. But you’re much smarter than I am… so you’ll come out of this much better than I did.” –Chloe Leeson