MOM AND DAD is a thinly veiled critique of the American Dream, painting the cookie-cutter houses, paper-pushing jobs and six-figure salaries with mimosas as a trap we fall into because it’s what’s expected of us. Land a high-paying job, have 2.5 children, overpay on an underwater mortgage and patiently wait for escape through the slowly tightening grip of death as you question how you got from a gorgeous, hard-partying 20-something to an overweight 40-something who hates their very existence.

Part of that journey into questioning what the hell happened in life involves children who demand attention, food and general necessities to survive. They’re dependent on you for so long until they’re not. For a good portion of their early lives, they annoy you—for food, toys and attention. Then one day, with their noses buried in their phones, you annoy them. Talk about a slap in the face.

It’s self-reflective in a way that is a tad on the nose, but fun nonetheless.

And that’s what MOM AND DAD addresses—or at least tries to. It shows people who should be happy with everything that they have who are, underneath the manicured lawns and hot yoga instructors, miserable, hating their spouses, children and lack of a proper fuck. If the parents lack, or remove the responsibility to their children, maybe they can be free of their dead-end life. Hence the premise of the movie where for 24 hours parents are dead-set on killing their children.

While the premise of MOM AND DAD is exciting—a movie that’s more than just a parental killing spree with the blood of children running in the streets—the pacing does little to help move the plot along. For a brisk 80-minute movie, the pacing seemed to trudge. Nicolas Cage (playing Brent Ryan), disappears after the opening scene until almost 30 minutes into the movie. Even when Cage and Selma Blair (playing Kendall Ryan) were hot on the heels of killing their children Carly and Josh Ryan (played by Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur), the action still felt slow and methodical—yet rewarding. It wasn’t until the last 15 minutes when things got truly out of hand; however, some egregious CGI and directing distract from an otherwise wonderful ending. There appears to be real fire used in a very-cool explosion scene, though. Keep an eye out for it.

MOM AND DAD is a thinly veiled critique of the American Dream.

The story also lacks from unoriginality, feeling like a zombie movie with a hint of Stephen King’s CELL. It had the opportunity to be something special, but something—maybe the budget—got in the way of making MOM AND DAD an inventive movie. Instead, it felt like nothing new.

However, it’s a fun ride thanks to the solid acting. Crying Cage is best Cage and MOM AND DAD proves that. Blair is great as an aloof housewife not so far down the DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES path of self-destruction to realize her life is still pretty good. Winters and Arthur excel as the children along with a strong supporting cast. The homeroom teacher played by Joseph D. Reitman (THE PERFECT STORM) steals every scene he’s in, even if they are sadly few and far between.

MOM AND DAD isn’t by any stretch a bad movie—even with some questionable CGI and okay acting. It’s inoffensive—neither good nor bad. MOM AND DAD embodies its very own thesis of the mediocrity of well-to-do, privileged Americans and the vapid vanity that encompasses an otherwise meaningless life, propped up by excitable outbursts of the unexpected. It’s self-reflective in a way that is a tad on the nose, but fun nonetheless and worth a watch.