Being a mom is hard, whether birthing a child, adopting one or simply stepping up to the plate when a kid needs someone. While many movies featuring motherly relationships have to squeeze every ounce of drama into a two-hour run time, some of them do it very well, demonstrating these movie moms have what it takes.
”Lady Bird” (2017) — Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan beautifully portray a complicated and complex mother-daughter relationship in Greta Gerwig’s highly acclaimed film. Ronan plays an artistic and driven high school senior Lady Bird as she begins to apply to colleges, dreaming of leaving her humdrum life in Sacramento, California for the busy streets of New York City. All of this while her hard-working mother struggles to connect with her and isn’t as thrilled with Lady Bird’s decision to apply to schools they can not afford. Featuring a stellar supporting cast around them, the whole film is a triumph. Stream it on Netflix or rent it on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu or YouTube.
”Lilo & Stitch” (2002) — This now-classic animated family comedy focuses on a motherly relationship between sisters after a tragedy forced big sister Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere) to care for her little sister Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase). But things aren’t going well for Lilo and Nani as family services have been called to do a welfare check as they’re both struggling with the new dynamic. But it is clear, especially after they adopt the “dog” Stitch (who turns out to be a mischievous alien on the run), that Nani will do anything to protect her little sister and keep their family together as best she can. Stream it on Disney+ or rent it on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu or YouTube.
”The Joy Luck Club” (1993) — This is one of the typically sappy yet well-made films that you would typically associate with stories about mothers and daughters. It is an emotional film of four Chinese immigrant women and their relationship with their American-born daughters. Based on the book of the same name (and co-written by the author, Amy Tan, herself), the film is broken up into four sections with each section focusing on a different mother-daughter group. All of them have their own issues and stresses but above all, each mother simply wants the best for their child. Since May is the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, it’s a nice addition to watch this month. Rent it on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu or YouTube.
”Soul Food” (1997) — The matriarch at the head of the classic late-’90s family drama played by Irma P. Hall, may not be around long, but it’s her influence over the rest of the family is always present. Hall plays Big Mama Joe, the ever-watchful grandmother who gathers her family together every Sunday without fail for a dinner highlighting classic soul food staples. Meanwhile, her three daughters have problems of their own and eventually strain their relationships to one another and the rest of the family after Joe passes. The film was one of the first to feature an all-Black cast that didn’t revolve around some kind of generational trauma or stereotypical storyline. Stream it on Amazon Prime or rent it on Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu or YouTube.
”Tarzan” (1999) — While unconventional (as they’re both different species) and not the crux of the movie, the relationship between Tarzan (voiced by Tony Goldwyn) and Kala (voiced by Glenn Close) is still a beautiful mother-son story. When Tarzan is a baby, he and his parents are shipwrecked and after building a treehouse home, his parents are killed by a leopard. Orphaned, a gorilla (Kala) finds him and decides to raise him after losing her own child. Their bond is strong as Tarzan grows and she only wishes the best for him, despite the fact that that may mean she never sees him again. Cue the melancholic Phil Collins song and you’ve got a tear-jerker. Stream it on Disney+ or rent it on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu or YouTube.
”Throw Momma from the Train” (1987) — Who said attempted matricide couldn’t be at least a little funny? Honestly, the only reason it is is because of Anne Ramsey’s performance as Mrs. Lift, mother of Owen (Danny DeVito), who concocts a plan a la Alfred Hitchcock to get his writing teacher Larry (Billy Crystal) to kill her, in return he’d kill Larry’s ex-wife. The darkly funny plot is enhanced by Ramsey’s paranoid and overbearing mother-figure that Larry just can’t seem to kill, taking all three of them on a transcontinental adventure. Stream it on Showtime or rent it from Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Plus, Vudu or YouTube.