To truly appreciate Serial Mom you first have to appreciate the unhinged humor of John Waters. The beginning tells you that this is based on a true story. One might loosely connect it to the case of the cheerleader's Mom who murdered her daughter's teammates to insure her a spot at the top. I see little to no connection there. Any truth in this film is more likely a potpourri of court cases blended together with Waters' warped sense of humor and a cast of real characters.
Kathleen Turner does a fantastic job as the June Cleaverish Mom, Beverly Sutphin. She bakes, keeps a spiffy clean house, watches the happy little birdies, recycles and never ever chews gum. Beverly just likes everything to be sunny and pleasant in her world, like a cardboard cutout perfect tv family. The trouble is she'll do anything to make it happen. When her son Chip's teacher pisses her off in a meeting she runs him down with her car. When her daughter Misty is stood up by a boy he meets a grisly demise by way of fireplace poker. Once her family begins to piece together Beverly's little problem they are all stepping on eggshells not wanting to upset the balance of her perfect little world.
I absolutely love this film. The contrast of Pleasantville meets murderous rampage is so enticing. I love how Beverly acts as if the killings are just a necessary evil to keep things in order. Secretly she is enjoying the hell out of it and we know it. One of my favorite scenes involves Beverly crank calling her neighbor Dottie Hinkle, brilliantly played by Waters regular Mink Stole. After sending Dottie a nasty anonymous note reading: 'I'll get you, pussy face,' Beverly, sweet as honey just moments before gets on the phone and in a gruff voice says, “Is this the cocksucker residence?" The call escalates from there and I'm smirking now just thinking about it, funny as all hell.
I'm a big Waters fan so I wasn't so surprised to find that I liked it. What surprised me is knowing that a lot of other people would like it too. As a rule, John Waters is kind of an acquired taste when it comes to film. Most people either love him or hate him, “get” him or don't. Serial Mom is the exception to the rule. There is something in this film that appeals to just about everyone. Maybe we all secretly wished to see June Cleaver stealing a banana at the grocery store, sneaking a cigarette or having a little side action behind Ward's back. Anything that would show us she was less than perfect. This is it, June Cleaver being bad and it's oh so good.
On a side note, the band L7 appear in this film as the band Camel Lips (yes that is a burning body on the stage with them).