The new comedy Helicopter Mom follows the last days of high school for a teenage boy named Lloyd (Jason Dolley) and his overprotective mother, Maggie (Nia Vardalos, My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Lloyd longs to go to college in New York, but money is tight and so scholarships are a must. Taking matters into her own hands, Maggie makes the assumption that her son’s lack of traditionally masculine activities means he must be gay. She applies for a scholarship for openly gay teenagers for her son, leading to him discovering what she’s done only after his entire school starts asking if he is in fact gay. His father (Mark Boone Junior) thinks Maggie is crazy, but he doesn’t have much of a say in things as he is only just reintroducing himself into Lloyd’s life. He counsels his son in the only ways he knows how, by taking the teenager to a bar. As scholarship interviews begin, Lloyd does what Maggie believe is unthinkable; he asks a gorgeous cheerleader (Skyler Samuels) to prom. Lloyd must find a way to get his mom to back off and let him live his life, all while trying to determine what his sexuality is anyway.
Helicopter Mom does something I’ve never seen in a film before; it allows the teenager to work on their own sexuality and doesn’t end with a black or white answer. Truth be told, if Lloyd declared homosexuality or heterosexuality, it would cheapen the story. Lloyd as a character is so charming because he doesn’t make everything about sex. While there are conversations of masturbation and typical teenage attraction, Lloyd is pretty straightforward about not being experienced sexually and therefore feeling he doesn’t have a definition of his sexuality. He instead is more focused on his friendships and dreams outside of high school.
Nia Vardalos’s character is so incredibly inappropriate it is difficult not to enjoy her. Maggie’s wardrobe is not that of a typical mother and her vocal nature ensures she puts her foot in her mouth more than once in the film. Her colorful highlights, ripped tights and completely inappropriate stories are laugh out loud funny, even as she makes choices that would lead me to putting a restraining order against her. Partnering with Mark Boone Junior from Son of Anarchy makes for an odd match for Vardalos, but the combination is surprisingly charming. Lisa Loeb as Lloyd’s English teacher is almost unnoticeable, but her work on the main track of the film was a charming reminder of why I loved Lisa Loeb so much in my early teens. Jason Dolley is adorable perfection, straddling the line between awkward teenager and handsome soon-to-be adult.
Helicopter Mom left me with a pleasant feeling of delight. The comedy is well-timed and the message of accepting your children for who they are, even if they don’t yet know themselves, was positive and worthy of sharing.
Helicopter Mom comes to limited theaters and VOD April 24, 2015 from Entertainment One Distribution.