Since we’re still in the Mother’s Day spirit, here’s a movie that could possibly appeal to all you Moms who love your children very much but sometimes just wish that you could get a little quiet time for yourself, get off your feet, or just get some uninterrupted sleep. I’m not a mom but I am the oldest of five siblings so I know a little bit of what it’s like to hear the baby’s cry in the middle of the night (although I never had to actually get up with them until I babysat my brother’s kids last year while I was on holiday).
“Tully” again teams up director Jason Reitman with Oscar-winning writer, Diablo Cody (“Juno”). Charlize Theron is Marlo, mom of two (soon to be three) kids, Jonah (Asher Miles Fallica) and Sarah (Lia Frankland). Jonah may be special needs and is getting the boot from his school for his erratic behavior. The principal (Gameela Wright) says, “it’s just not a good fit.” When the baby is born, Marlo’s wealthy brother (Mark Duplass) offers to pay for a night nanny, someone to come in and take care of the baby at night so Marlo could get some rest. Marlo’s husband, Drew (an amazingly understated Ron Livingston), thinks it’s a great idea as it would enable him to continue his nightly ritual of crawling into bed only to put his headphones on and play video games. Drew’s a good intentioned guy, but he’s away a lot for business and when he’s home, he’s blind to Marlo’s challenges.
No way Marlo wants a stranger in her house taking care of her kids so she bites the bullet and keeps on parenting, mostly on her own. Soon, however, taking care of kids, house, and husband is too much for her and she calls the night nanny.
Enter Tully (Mackenzie Davis). She’s young, pretty, and hip, everything Marlo wishes she was. Tully bonds quickly with baby Mia and with Marlo. She not only takes care of the baby, but cleans the house and makes cupcakes for Jonah’s class at school. Marlo’s actually getting some sleep and she’s never felt better.
But things are not what they seem. The third-act twist is just too good to spoil, so I’ll only say that it was surprising and shed light things that happened earlier in the film.
Charlize Theron shines as Marlo. She put on 50 pounds for the role and went sans makeup to be as authentic as possible. Not to say that moms can’t look like Charlize when she’s glammed up! Theron captures Marlo’s day-to-day struggle to keep up with the demands of her family and the extent of her exhaustion right alongside the obvious love she has for her husband and each of her children.
While the film definitely affirms marriage and motherhood, it makes parenting seem like more of a burden with very little joy. At one point Marlo confesses to Tully that, prior to her marriage, she slept around, even dabbling in a homosexual relationship for a while. While no parent is perfect, the journey taken in this film, is not the best example of a Christian understanding of basic behavior and parenting. What “Tully” does do well is emphasize that parenting is at its best when both Mom and Dad are actively involved in all aspects of their children’s lives—together.