The Mommy Market

(Trading Mom, Tia Brelis, USA, 1994)


Wishful fictions in which children are suddenly released from the settings of their daily family lives to explore alternative, fantasy worlds sometimes have a thrilling, subversive edge.

The Mommy Market avoids such a thrill in its cautionary tale of three children who magically cast their mother (Sissy Spacek) into limbo and then go shopping in a surreal "Mommy market" for their ideal parent.

The children are given three chances to pick a Mommy. They try out an elegant fashion queen, a sporty outdoors type, and finally a clown who brings her entire circus troupe along.

Each time the children end up disappointed and desperate – and any scholar of Little Golden Books or The Wizard of Oz (1939) will be able to guess where this resolutely conservative fable is heading.

Nonetheless, there is a touch of poetry in the way writer-director Tia Brelis (this appears to be her only film) mixes everyday and fantasy worlds – the children find their special market tucked away in an ordinary back lane – and enjoyment in seeing Spacek act out all the Mommy parts, real and imaginary.

MORE Spacek: Carrie, In the Bedroom, The Ring Two

© Adrian Martin March 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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