Unsure why this one was so critically derided
A refreshing reminder that sometimes movies can be everything they need to be by offering nothing more than a hairbrained setup or a particularly delicious cast pairing, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot delivers exactly what it promises, and delightfully so. Sylvester Stallone plays Joe Bomowski, a variant of Stallone’s onscreen personae from many films past: A tough bachelor cop with a case to crack. Estelle Getty plays a variant of her onscreen personae: a charming and overbearing old lady. The comedy gold of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot is wrung out of the disperate pairing of these two icons (you just wouldn’t expect to see these two together in a film), and the genuine comedic chemistry and timing the two performers have together as drawn out by director Roger Spottiswood.
It is not lost on me that, as of this writing some 30 years after the film’s release, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot sits at a painful 7% on Rotten Tomatoes, making my reaction to the film a major outlier. Perhaps my unapologetic love for Sylvester Stallone, or the fact that I didn’t have to shell out fifty bucks to schlep the whole family to the theater to see the film, colors my perception. (Though a recent first time watch of Stallone’s equally derided Rhinestone had me siding with the masses). But in this case I just can’t understand what critics and audiences wanted from a film called Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot starring Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty. I guess if the premise or the casting or the genre just really aren’t your thing, that’s understandable. But if you WANT to see a movie such as this, my sense is that it absolutely delivers everything a far out action comedy promises.
I’ve always believed that Stallone is underappreciated as a comedic talent. And Joe Bomowski’s put-upon tough guy act is actually loaded with examples of Stallone’s ability to emote humorously. And then there’s the matter of comedic timing (some of which can be magnified by a great editor, I’m sure), and I felt that Stallone and Getty had a remarkable chemistry and timing that genuinely had me guffawing at a few key interchanges. Getty, known for her comedy, also manages to defy expectations here by being somewhat sweet at times, not to mention capable. Part of the comedy is wrung out of the fact that Joe is entirely flummoxed by how much everyone ELSE absolutely loves his mom, and how her maternal instincts end up cracking the case wide open. Getty charmed me start to finish in this, rather than being the butt of the joke.
I will say that I’m quite certain there were times when I was laughing that maybe the film itself didn’t intend for me to laugh. But if I’m being entertained by the sheer ridiculousness of this film, I’m not sure it matters if my entertainment is a result of the film’s intentions or if it’s at the expense of the film. Either way, I’m entertained. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot’s script (Blake Snyder, William Osbourne, William Davies) follows the classic structure of a romantic comedy, only swapping out the female romantic interest for the overbearing mom. This results in a scene where the duo almost “break up” and Getty’s Tutti (perfect name) is being whisked away on an airport golf cart as Stallone is chasing her down and shouting “I want you to stay” with music swelling and the whole nine yards. Reader, I cackled.
The big gamble of banking an entire film on chemistry and a wacky premise is that if the audience doesn’t bite, you’ve lost them. Clearly Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot took that gamble and, at least in 1992, lost. History hasn’t been kind to this film. And if I put myself in the shoes of that audience, I could understand that if you aren’t enjoying the bickering and co-dependency between Joe and Tutti… this film could be a slog. And while the action film tropes are all there, the big case isn’t the most engaging in cop movie history.
But I appreciated the action movie trappings and the skewering of Stallone’s other classic cop characters anywhere from Cobra to Demolition Man (yes, I’m aware this came after S!OMMWS) to Nighthawks. I’m given the opportunity to imagine what it would be like if Estelle Getty were to come wandering into any of those tough guy films throwing a wrench into the works. And I just find that gag endlessly humorous. So thanks, creative team behind Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. You all put yourselves out there, swung for the fences with a ridiculous concept, and you no doubt took a lot of lickings when the film was largely rejected. But it’s still around, now in glorious high definition Blu-ray, and it found a new fan in me here in the year of our lord 2021.
And I’m Out.
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot hit Blu-ray 03/09/2021 from Mill Creek Entertainment.