Born Guilty seems like the wrong title for an allegedly farcical comedy. Then again, everything about this movie is so damn wrong, the title ends up being the least offensive thing about it. Rosanna Arquette shrieks it up as a cynical, lonely New York social worker who can’t stop nagging her son (Jay Devore), an ad man who lives way out in Los Angeles. But instead of telling his mother to ease off as she constantly badgers him over the phone, this asshat hatches a scheme where he sends his studly, free-spirited Australian buddy (David Coussins) to the Big Apple, so he can give her some companionship. Did I forget to mention that he’s also paying his pal $10,000 to do this, which essentially means he’s whoring out his friend — and his mother’s the trick!
As you might have guessed, this horrible idea eventually does more harm than good. But, really, this movie is just a stockpiled compendium of terrible decisions, both behind and in front of the camera. For starters, writer-director Max Heller foolishly wants the audience to believe that the still-ravishing Arquette could have trouble getting a man. And then, there’s that whole thing where nearly every character is a grating, damn-near-grotesque caricature, saying and doing things that make them come off as raving sociopaths. That’s a problem when the film seems intended to be the wacky but adorable story about a son trying to get loose from her mother’s guilt-fueled grip. But it’s the viewer who will ultimately feel the most suffocated — from all the tiresome, despicable bullshit that goes down in this movie.
Written and directed by Max Heller
Freestyle Digital Media
Opens May 11, AMC Empire 25
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 9, 2018