It took me a whole of six months watching Netflix almost every day to get to my first-ever Turkish movie. And when I was done watching “Mama’s Boy”, I was glad I did, although not so glad that I discovered the realm of light-hearted Arab comedy so late. There’s evidently a lot more to watch where this comes from.
Originally titled “Qalb Ummuh”, ‘Mama’s Boy’ is a 2018 slapstick comedy that is also somewhat of a spoof of gangster movies. There’s fun, drama and melodrama for the whole family, all packed into this 1h 42mins film that is thoroughly enjoyable—just for entertainment purposes. I mean there’s no takeaway or life lessons or any ‘larger purpose’ here. Just some refreshing entertainment while you watch it.
Mama’s Boy is literally about a mama’s boy, Younis (Hesham Maged)—an almost middle-aged man—who lives under the control of his strict mother (Dalal Abdulaziz). Younis’ life, including his career and love life, is dictated by his mother. He wants to be a screenwriter, a career course his mother disapproves of. She is also strictly against the woman Younis is in love with and wants to marry. Then, one day, when Younis does something against her wish, she gets a stroke and is rushed to the hospital where the doctor informs Younis that her brain is dead while her heart is still working.
On the other hand, there is the gangster Magdy Takhtokh (Shikoo) who is having issues with rival gangs while also planning a major smuggling operation. Now Magdy is a big man, literally too, and a formidable figure whose violence knows no bounds. He’s one of those gangsters who ‘shoot before they speak’. But unluckily for him, a freak accident punctures his heart the same day Younis’ mother is admitted to the hospital.
Then the strangest thing happens which leads to a major confusion in the lives of the characters. Intimidated by Magdy and his gang, the doctor at the hospital replaces Magdy’s heart with Younis’ mother’s, and that’s where the story takes the motherly turn. The gangster’s body is now pumped by a sexagenarian mother’s heart.
Against his own will and control, Magdy starts developing maternal instincts for Younis, a dangerous thing for a gangster. That sets in motion a string of incidents and events, which are improbable in real life but hilarious to watch in a spoof movie nonetheless.
Directed by Amr Salah, Mama’s Boy sure doesn’t have the finesse of Hollywood or other major movie industries, but that does not make it any less enjoyable in terms of creativity and presentation. Yes, certain scenes are shot in amateur-looking sets with flimsy props but the filmmakers don’t seem to be trying to hide anything.
There’s this unapologetic attitude that says it doesn’t care for the trivialities, which can be sensed. Throughout the film, there are momentary lapses in all aspects including direction, cinematography and acting but as no one seems to be promising perfection, it all seems intentional and part of the act. (Or is this typical of all Turkish movies?)
Average performances in all fronts that compliment each other are what make Mama’s Boy enjoyable. But still, actor Shikoo playing the gangster Magdy deserves a special mention. Despite all the shooting and murdering, Magdy is still a lovable character. (Well, that’s classic slapstick for you.) The big man manages to play a violent gangster without looking evil and when it comes to parts where he has to show Magdy’s motherly nature, he manages to do it without appearing feminine. There’s tremendous control in Shikoo’s acting that puts him in charge of how he wants to frame his character onscreen.
Who should watch it?
“Mama’s Boy” is made for all those who love slapstick comedy. But again, be warned, this genre and style might not please everybody.