Sunday, May 6, 2018

Movie Review: "Tully" (2018)

Director: Jason Reitman
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

A mother with two kids and a newborn baby is on the verge of a mental breakdown. To help ease her stress, her bougie brother offers to hire her a night nanny, who arrives just in time to help her get life back in order.
"I feel like an abandoned trash barge." (Image Source)
Being a mother is hard both mentally and physically. Kids can be a pain in the ass and are capable of driving you insane. Yet somehow, "they are also the greatest thing ever and the best thing to ever happen to me and a pure blessing," says the mother before screaming profanities at the top of her lungs and tearing all her hair out. "Tully" is directed by Jason Reitman, who is known for films like "Thank You for Smoking," "Young Adult," and "Up in the Air." It is written by Diablo Cody, who is best known for writing the Oscar-winning "Juno," which was directed by her frequent collaborator Reitman. It stars Charlize Theron as Marlo, a mother who has two kids, a little girl named Sarah (Lia Frankland) and a son with special needs named Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica). Marlo has also just given birth to her third child, a little girl named Mia. She is struggling to take care of her new baby and her existing children mostly by herself since her husband is in and out of the state on business trips. Her son is about to be forced to change schools, and Marlo is on the verge of a mental breakdown. Her brother Craig (Mark Duplass) offers to pay for a night nanny to watch Mia while Marlo gets some much-needed rest. The new night nanny, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), arrives just in time to give Marlo the relief she needs.
"She'll grow a little overnight. So will we." (Image Source)
We were very much looking forward to "Tully" after going back and watching all of Jason Reitman's other films. This is a darkly comedic character sketch that tries to portray what it's like to be a mother in the modern age. Make no mistake about it, "Tully" does not show the typical sugarcoated Hollywood version of what it means to be a mother, the ones where right after birth, new moms have an inexplicably clean house, an inordinate amount of time to gossip and hang out with friends, a perfectly bounced-back figure, and endless hours to do miscellaneous PTA stuff like baking treats for kids every damn day. Marlo is an actual mother. As a character, she looks like she has been through the ringer...we're sure motherhood feels that way at times. She is having trouble coping with her life due to being overly stressed by her kids and underappreciated by her husband Drew (Ron Livingston).
"Nobody wants to fuck mommy." (Image Source)
Charlize Theron does a fantastic job in this role, and she transformed herself to play the part of an exhausted mother. Her misery, frustration, and pent-up anger are all massively palpable, as are the love, compassion, and understanding she shows through all the stresses and strains. Theron's wonderful performance firmly establishes her as an early contender for Best Actress at next year's Oscars. Mackenzie Davis also does a splendid job as the titular Tully, offering the yin to Theron's yang and everything Marlo could have hoped for in a night nanny. Davis plays the bright-eyed young college intellectual who has her whole life ahead of her and is still optimistic for and about the future. This is a feeling that Marlo herself desperately wants to recapture, and Tully helps her to do just that with her new-found sense of purpose as a mom, wife, friend, and individual. Ron Livingston and Mark Duplass are also great in their much more limited roles.
"You can't just outsource your entire life." (Image Source)
"Tully" is supremely engaging throughout its runtime. This is a film that will stick with you long after you are done watching. The satirical wit and irony that we love from Diablo Cody's writing and Jason Reitman's direction have been lacking in their last few films, but they are back in full force here. This movie made us laugh, it made us feel, and it made us think. The only thing it didn't make us want to do is to have children.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.9/10
RT Rating: ~88%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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