Stop! or my mom will shoot!

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Northern Lights Entertainment 1992.
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Northern Lights Entertainment 1992.

Before watching the movie:

This has a reputation of being a terrible misstep in Sylvester Stallone’s career. For a career built on major action spectaculars, maybe so. As a movie, we’ll see. I think Stallone could be good in the role, I think the premise is good, but maybe it doesn’t add up to a good whole. Maybe Stallone phones it in. Maybe he has no chemistry with his costar. But I’m optimistic right now.

After watching the movie:

Sgt. Joe Bomowski’s mother arrives for a week’s visit unannounced, while Joe is fresh off a breakup with his superior officer and blown undercover mission. Wanting to replace the gun she ruined by cleaning it, Tutti ends up buying an illegal, stolen automatic pistol in a back alley deal moments before toughs from the company that the guns were stolen from kill the guys selling them. Now a witness to a murder, Tutti not only meddles in Joe’s personal life, but invades his job, too, withholding evidence from the investigating officer to help Joe get a promotion, tagging along on investigations, and driving in high-speed chases. Joe has to not only deal with her interference, but try to keep her safe when she just won’t stay behind.

At first, I completely didn’t understand why this has such a bad reputation. But I took some time to think about it, and I think it’s down to expectations. Those more familiar with the Sylvester Stallone of Rambo and Rocky probably find it confusing, disappointing, or even horrifying to see him in a movie where the main thing he does is go “aw, maaaaa” at Estelle Getty’s smothering (yes, she’s annoying. But that’s the point!). I’m not that intimately familiar with his early work, so I’m more comfortable with him in this role than whatever he thought he was doing as The Toymaker in Spy Kids 3. Of course, I know from Demolition Man that he can do a straight man in an action comedy. New viewers today come to this movie not only with the image of Stallone’s most iconic characters, but also with a powerful “this is a terrible movie” bias, and they see what they expect to see.

I spent the entire movie trying to place the actors playing Gwen (Joe’s ex-girlfriend/boss) and the main villain. I was surprised to find that I haven’t seen JoBeth Williams in much of anything. I hadn’t thought she was on “It’s that guy!” level. On the other hand, I might have recognized Roger Rees if he’d used his own accent, instead of fumbling a bit with an American one. I can’t exactly argue that he’s more prominent, but the Sheriff in Robin Hood: Men in Tights and the inaugural archvillain on Warehouse 13 are more familiar to me than anything JoBeth Williams was in (biggest thing: Jungle2Jungle).

My biggest complaint about the film is that Joe’s rival at the department gets his comeuppance only halfway through the movie and then is never heard from again. He threatened to get Joe investigated by Internal Affairs if he ever went near the case again, so it might have been interesting to have the finale as a race between him and Joe and Tutti. If he makes the arrest first, he can see to it that Joe’s career is over. Beyond that, the title music, beginning and end, seems to have been written for an entirely different movie. It’s the only time I can say that the film’s tone is inconsistent, as some claim.


Watch this movie: and be reminded that your relatives could be worse.

Don’t watch this movie: for action, violence, or bile fascination.

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