Review by Sean Boelman
A new Comedy Central special arriving just in time for Mother’s Day, the documentary Call Your Mother is an endearing film about the influence that mothers have on their high-profile children. Assembling some amusing anecdotes, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady have made a documentary that is both entertaining and wonderful.
In the movie, some of the most prolific comedians working today pay tribute to their mothers and talk about how their upbringing influenced their comedy. What makes this documentary stand out above others that feature comedians talking about their past is that this has an even more personal feel to it, tied to its subjects’ love for their mothers.
Some of the comedians interviewed in the film have lost their mothers, and these sections are heartwarming as the subjects remember the ways in which their moms helped shape who they would become. Louie Anderson’s segment in this regard is particularly impactful, perhaps the single best that the movie has to offer because of its honesty.
Other people interviewed in the film still have their mothers around today, and these segments tend to be more entertaining, if less impactful. Some of the most interesting moments of the movie are those interviews with the comedian and their mother at the same time, as they sit around a table sharing stories.
The other thing that makes up a significant portion of the film is performance footage. For those comedians whose mothers are still living, the filmmakers recorded their performances with their mothers in the audience, and many of the jokes being told end up pivoting to be about their mothers. This allows there to be some very funny moments.
All this is done in service to what is a gigantic love letter to moms. Even though the movie deals with some high-profile interviewees, a lot of what is said in the film can be applied to any parent-child relationship. There are highs and lows in any relationship, but a good mother offers unconditional love, whether it can be seen easily or not.
Clocking in at just under an hour and fifteen minutes (the documentary will be given an hour-and-a-half long block to air for commercials), it’s a breezy watch. The blend of humor and heart makes the story very compelling, and the recognizable faces it features (David Spade, Awkwafina, Kristen Schaal, and more) mean that audiences will undoubtedly latch on to it.
Call Your Mother is a perfect treat to watch with mom on this Mother’s Day mired by unusual levels of separation. Sometimes a reminder of human connection is just what is needed, and that is exactly what is on display here.
Call Your Mother was set to debut at the cancelled 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. It airs on Comedy Central on Mother’s Day at 10/9c.