Regardless of what Freud thought, there’s something undeniably funny about the dynamic between a mother and a child. It’s fair to say that our moms have many idiosyncrasies—they can be sweet, all-knowing, aloof, hovering, and sarcastic—but there’s still a universal humor in how we relate to them. Those miscommunications and mishaps might be why the subject of mothers comes up frequently in stand-up comedy.
Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) take this idea a step further in Call Your Mother: they don’t just interview comics about their moms, but allow the mothers to speak their part in front of the camera. Their subjects—including Louie Anderson, Tig Notaro, Kristen Schaal, Awkwafina, Bobby Lee, Norm MacDonald, Rachel Feinstein, and more—reflect on how their dreams collided (or didn’t) with their parents’ expectations, and how they’ve seen their relationships change over time. Their mothers’ humor comes through, too, in meandering answering machine messages, awkward shopping trips, and delightfully lewd songwriting. Ultimately, the film is a loving and hilarious meditation on how family shapes who we are, and how we might be able to pay it forward by sharing a laugh.—Mimi Brody
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady are the co-directors of Jesus Camp, an Academy Award® nominee, The Boys of Baraka, an Emmy® nominee, 12th & Delaware, a Peabody Award winner, Detropia, an Emmy® winner, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, One of Us, and Love Fraud.