By Natasha Samreny
Judd Nelson and cupcakes. Cue Whitney, Didn’t we almost have it all? If you must, at least don’t watch this one an empty stomach. The movie’s about a small town’s star cupcake baker Mary Maroni (Lea Thompson) who ends up becoming Mayor on a fluke. And besides Judd (yes we’re on a first-name basis) as Thompson’s moustachio’d, harmonica-playing husband, frankly, the endless beauty shots of rainbow-colored cupcakes stole the show.
For a family-friendly movie (PG), maybe it deserves a 3. But overall, I just kept waiting for someone to punch up the pace or say something really funny, to stop me from running to the kitchen and grabbing the first version of sugary-fatty goodness I saw, to stop the swells of cupcake cravings gathering in my mouth.
Lea Thompson, I sort of like you as an actor and the story had promise. But it was just slow, dragged around with enough cheesy acting and sugar-filled soundtrack. So much potential: professional working mom Mary Maroni (Thompson) has three unique daughters and gets secretly nominated by one of those daughters to run against a long-running incumbent for mayor. What could happen when the mom accepts?
There seemed too many supporting roles to include their back stories and develop their characters much onscreen. Especially for the quality of actors mixed with the newbies onscreen, including Dorian Harewood whom I still remember from Roots, Frankie Faison (L.B. Brown in Meet the Browns, and Barney in Silence of the Lambs) and of course Judd, whom I appreciate as much for his acting as for my Brat Pack-raised crush on him. But I felt like every time I started take interest in a character, asking questions and leaning forward for a new beat, we cut to the next scene and moved on. This happened to four of my favorites: Donald Maroni (Judd Nelson), Anita Maroni (Madelyn Deutch), Albert Peach (Dorian Harewood) and Black Bart (Peter Schmitz). Black Bart was a weird, unexplained character who drove around Bridgeville in a black hat and trenchcoat and never cracked a smile. He looked like an omniscient stage narrator, and I kept expecting him to freeze-frame a scene, jump off his bike and break the fifth wall with some comedic monologue to hurry the plot along. He didn’t, but it was sort of entertaining anyway.
Another special movie moment was when Mary’s eldest, Anita, started playing the theme song from The Breakfast Club onstage with her high school band. In the movie, Mary is worried about Anita not having any “real” future career plans outside of her band, and misses what her husband Donald seems to understand: ‘Nita just wants to play rock ‘n roll. While the cover was okay, I got a bigger kick out of seeing Donald (Judd) with his weird caterpillar mustache taping the performance of his little girl with a handheld camcorder … rocking onstage to Simple Minds… and the theme song of his own angst-ridden criminal teenage movie life. (Sigh).
Actually, there’s a little history behind this otherwise quirky scene. Two of Thompson’s daughters in the movie (Madeline and Zoey Deutch) are her daughters in real life. (Madeline played Anita the singer). Thompson and husband, director Howard Deutch met years ago on one of the sets of Breakfast Club filmmaker John Hughes. Sadly, according to an interview on The Hollywood Exclusive blog, Hughes passed away the day Madeline had to sing and “[the] scene became an unplanned tribute” [link: http://becksmithhollywood.com/?p=4005] .
I can imagine what a shadow such an event must have cast over the rest of the project. For its efforts, the movie is a nice family film for a rainy day when nothing else is on. Mayor Mary Maroni ends up doing good by kicking out the small government’s bad blood, organizing their financial books, and getting the struggling town back in the black. Supposedly, the film is dedicated to a “real” Mary Maroni. Wonder what else she did? Wonder if she kept office in a cupcake diner too.
Cupcake recipes PDF—The only extra is a PDF of cupcake recipes from allrecipes.com. Ten different flavors, one page each. Seem yummy, haven’t tried them yet.