“Tully” is a movie that almost hit too close to home for me. The Charlize Theron character may be a little more similar to myself than I’d like to admit, and I can’t say that about the vast majority of parenting movies.
What Works: For the majority of “Tully,” we watch quietly realistic scenes building towards something we can’t quite put our finger on. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, but almost all of them deliver a slice-of-life portrait of the pressure cooker that can be modern parenting. Theron dives so deep into this role, it may be her most chameleonic work since “Monster,” and only serves as another reminder of how she’s become one of the best actresses alive, mostly without many knowing it. When the “twist” comes (and this is why I waited just a little bit to review this movie) it’s an exceptional allegory for aging that’s been right in front of us all along. Also, Ron Livingston is great in what might otherwise be an under-written role (the good-natured but somewhat useless dad), and the terrific Mackenzie Davis shines in every scene she’s in. If you had any doubts she’s an A-list actress in the making after “Halt and Catch Fire” or “Blade Runner 2049,” those are probably put to rest now.
What Doesn’t: Although I loved the twist and found it a powerful allegory for aging and parenthood, there’s some that will find it a plot device to jazz up a movie that otherwise is just a collection of “pretty good” scenes that are deliberately average. This is a movie about the quiet insanity coming from the monotonous, exhausting tasks of parenthood, and that may explain why a good chunk of the movie’s execution feels a little slow. It almost has to be by nature…
What I Would’ve Done Differently: …But I would easily take this more honest take over all the big-studio comedies or thrillers about motherhood that are also available in May (what’s usually an early-summer testosterone fest was this year a surprisingly mom-flavored month with “Book Club,” “Overboard,” “Breaking In,” and “Life of the Party”). So far, this is a kinder, gentler Summer than what we’ve had in the past, and even if that’s a great thing, not all “mom entertainment” is created equal.