Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In the Land of Milk and Money: Grade B

In the Land of Milk and Money (2004)

Christopher Coulson, Kim Gillingham. Writer-director Susan Emshwiller

In this bizarre comedy a scientist (Coulson) introduces a genetic modification into cows to increase milk production, but the milk causes mothers to become psychotic killers of their children. The contamination only affects mothers and they only want to kill their own children. The situations that develop are hilarious, as sweet, stereotype moms quietly go nuts and try to kill their (mostly adult) children. Mercifully, we don’t see any violence against youngsters. The agribusiness corporation naturally covers up the scandal while the scientist works feverishly on an antidote. Meanwhile, zombie-like mothers across the country are captured and placed in concentration camps suggestive of the Japanese-American internment camps of WWII.

What is life like without any mothers? The movie echoes “A Day Without A Mexican” to show how much everyone depends on mothers, but in other respects, men prosper taking women’s places in the workforce, reminding us how it was in Germany when the Jews were whisked away, and some men are happy to be free of nagging wives. Gillingham is a pregnant news reporter who finds out the story then is desperate for the antidote before her child is born.

The sets are corny or ironic abstractions of 1950’s suburbia, right down to the furniture, costumes, colors, hairstyles, and accessories (except, oddly, the scientist drives a Miata, and the news equipment is modern). Music tends to uptempo pizzicato strings from 1950’s TV ads or drive-in movie intermezzos. The acting is remarkably good for such fluff. At first I thought this would be a wicked satire of popular concern over mad cow disease, then it seemed it would be a parody of 1950’s B-movies, or 1950’s stereotypes, then it looked to be comparing the morality of American and German WWII concentration camps, then by the first hour I knew it was only a collection of funny skits and silly bits in a dark mood. But it kept me laughing.

No comments:

Post a Comment