For his third feature, Momma's Man, micro-budget filmmaker Azazel Jacobs shoots in his boyhood home, and has his parents Flo and Ken—the latter a legend of avant-garde cinema—playing, essentially, themselves. Then he casts Matt Boren as their grown son, an L.A.-based husband and father who flies into New York City on business, stays with his parents, and has a hard time leaving. Initially, Boren claims he's having trouble with his flight out. Then he starts cooking up vague, defensive excuses for his wife, like "Do you know what it's like to watch your parents get old?" Eventually, he stops trying to explain himself at all, and just settles into long days of playing with toys, picking at his guitar, and calling up old friends to see if they remember the person he used to be.
Momma's Man is a comedy of sorts, though to Jacobs' credit, he doesn't aim for cheap laughs. When Boren's mother asks if he's reluctant to go home because his wife's having an affair, Boren shrugs and says yes—a convenient lie that would be a lot funnier if Jacobs didn't cut several times to Boren's wife back in L.A., stressed out and undeserving of being tagged a Jezebel. And when Boren caterwauls his way through a profane love song he wrote as a teenager, Jacobs gets a good chuckle out of the annoyed voice of Boren's father, trying to sleep; but he also continues the scene and the song for another minute, so it becomes less of a gag and more an illustration of Boren's near-psychopathic insensitivity.
Indie films about arrested adolescence have practically become a genre, but the way Jacobs avoids pat explanations for Boren's behavior—or any kind of forced catharsis—is so refreshingly low-key that it's easy to feel like Jacobs has reinvented the wheel. Honestly, he hasn't, but Momma's Man is a welcome change of pace regardless. If nothing else, Jacobs has the set of a lifetime in his folks' cluttered apartment, a cavernous space subdivided into a labyrinth of shelves, mirrors, and tchotchkes. Depending on where Jacobs places the camera, the apartment looks like an entirely different place. Why would Boren want to leave?