Three playlets written by superstars obsessed with bad parenting add up to an uneven, unsatisfying evening that makes you want to run back to mommy.
First, Ethan Coen‘s slender Talking Cure has a postal worker (Danny Hoch) being prodded to talk through his rage by a mental-institution doctor (Jason Kravits), revealing that his problems stem from bickering parents who clearly talked too much.
Elaine May‘s George Is Dead has a superficial, high-strung widow (Marlo Thomas, above) burdening herself on an old friend (Lisa Emery).
No bad parenting here — until you learn that Emery’s mother always cared more for Thomas than for her, and still does!
Thomas does well with the amusing quirks May has dealt her, but the overload of unsympathetic characters starts to become as oppressive as all the yelling at this point.
After intermission, Woody Allen‘s Honeymoon Motel has a terrible father actually getting off the hook for his transgression.
The plot involves a middle-aged man devastating his wife and stepson by running off with an inappropriate younger woman. (Really stretching here, Woody!)
Even less shockingly, it ends up being an apologia for his behavior.
Woody, just sleep with Soon-Yi and stop trying to convince the world it’s OK!
I’ll admit the wrap-up is hilariously pulled off, and throughout the playlet Woody’s wry wit provides some laughs on the subjects of pizza and prostitution.
But the wedding-night premise is pure sitcom, the intergenerational love relationship is only served in broad strokes, and the direction is by sledgehammer.