Diane Keaton used to be funny but these days she's just plain weird and if you have any doubts on that score just check out Smother - a film in which she plays an annoying, overbearing mother and somehow manages to be annoying in a variety of completely wrong ways. She's just slightly out of phase with everyone else in this admittedly thin story, but the result is a performance that isn't intentionally comedically exasperating but instead just downright painful. In a better film it might not have mattered so much and in a worse film no-one would have cared, but this tale of Noah Coooper (Dax Shepard), a youngish guy who gets fired, has his wife (Liv Tyler) let her dorky cousin (Mike White) come to stay and his insane mother Marilyn (Keaton) turn up looking for somewhere to live all in the same day is pretty much a surprise-free slice of mildly humorous comedy with hardly a memorable feature to praise or damn. Sure, in a great comedy Keaton's twitchy, skittish, nutty performance could be laughed off. But this is tepid at best, a stale collection of obvious gags and clumsy set-up wrapped in a sappy belated coming-of-age tale as Noah gradually discovers all the usual things about life and love. But if this still sounds like it's worth a look... well, you'd better bring a pillow.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #427)