Review - When The Bough Breaks
I know what you're thinking, we really needed another Fatal Attraction knock-off, because let's be honest, that hasn't been done enough. Sure, it's not shot-for-shot the same film, but boy does it want to be. The movie is never insultingly bad, but it is relentlessly uninspired and feels like a product off of an assembly line rather than an actual movie.
When The Bough Breaks is about John and Laura Taylor (Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall), a couple that have been trying to have a child for years, but due to medical constraints, are unable to. Along comes the perfect candidate (Jaz Sinclair) who is willing to be their surrogate mother, little do they know that she has secrets and an aim to take the husband as her own.
I'm just going to get the very few positive aspects of this film out of the way first. The director, Jon Cassar, does manage to build a couple of moments of earned tension. Of course, I always knew what was going to happen because the film's predictable as all hell, but still, there were some moments where I perked up from my near-slumber in anticipation of what might transpire. This segues into another positive; I sorta, kinda, sorta cared about the husband and wife and their dilemma. I'll attribute this to the lead actors; Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall who have a natural and subtle charisma about them and do a decent job of selling themselves as a distraught couple.
Despite semi-passable performances from the two leads and some tension here and there, this film is a limp fish with some seriously illogical plot developments at every turn. I think what bothered me the most is that the film makes decisions based off of what would be most titillating to audiences, and not based upon what the characters would actually do, thus sacrificing what little logic and morals they seemed to have. There are plenty of instances where characters could have resolved an issue with a simple phone call or conversation, but no, it decides to forge on, in turn, making the characters even less believable. Also, if you're going to try to be titillating in the way Bough is trying to be, at least don't restrain yourself with a limiting PG-13 rating. I mean, that's a like a SAW film where all of the deaths are panned away from.
I also take issue with the antagonists in this film. The surrogate mother, Anna, has some pretty cringe-y lines and her motivations are not explained very well at all. Then there's her boyfriend (Theo Rossi) who would pop up out of nowhere at random times and say some of the dorkiest, most cliched villain lines I've heard all year. Now, I like Theo Rossi a lot in Sons of Anarchy, but I honestly couldn't stifle a few giggles whenever he was on-screen.
On top of this we have an unfitting musical score that has really strange cues for literally every moment of the film. At the beginning you'll think you're about to watch a romantic comedy just based off of how twinkly and happy the music sounds. I half expected the characters to walk out of their front door and burst into song, followed by singing birds and talking animals. Of course, it doesn't stay twinkly and is replaced by what I found to be akin to cop procedural television music. Speaking of television, this film looks like something you might see on one. There's no real set-pieces or stand-out cinematic moments that you might expect to see when you drop that $11 at the box office.
The film's main selling point and the one difference between it and other Fatal Attraction-eque films; is the baby. The surrogate mother is a dangerous individual and she also has their child growing within her. This could have opened up an interesting dynamic when push came to shove. I would have liked to see more of a conflict about what someone would do if a psychotic person is trying to kill you, but they hold within themselves something you love so you can't hurt them back. Well, this film kind of tip-toes around that conflict and has a very cookie-cutter resolution, which was beyond disappointing. Again, I attribute this somewhat to that PG-13 rating, but I also believe directors can get creative and pull things off even when they're at the mercy of that wicked PG-13 rating.
All things said, When The Bough Breaks is a blatant Fatal Attraction copy-cat with the seeds of a unique idea hidden deep down with the child dynamic. In addition to being bland and nearly bloodless; the film is also illogical and compromises its characters in favor of titillation, only to then pull back too soon when it realizes it's supposed to be a movie for teenagers. Though it has two or three moments that might peek your interest, I still wouldn't recommend this to even the most forgiving of movie goers.