Moms can be annoying. But, they do it out of love.
In “Helicopter Mom,” Nia Vardalos stars as smothering mother, Maggie, who goes too far to help her son Lloyd (Jason Dolley) to be accepted as a gay person for a college scholarship. The only issue is that Lloyd doesn’t know on whether he’s gay or not and he asked a cute girl to the prom (Skyler Samuels).
The movie also stars Kate Flannery (“The Office”), Mark Boone Junior (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Lisa Loeb (“Fright Night”). It is directed by Salome Breziner.
Latino-Review had an exclusive phone interview with director Salome Breziner last month. We talked about helicopter moms, parenthood, non-traditional families, tackling the gay theme and improvisation.
“Helicopter Mom” is currently available on VOD and iTunes.
Read the interview transcript below.
Latino-Review: Why were you attracted to direct this film?
Salome Breziner: Well, I wanted to show a different side of motherhood. And on how to deal with the modern families in the shapes and sizes they come in. It’s a message to the world that it’s okay to have a nontraditional family. It’s all coming from a place of love and have it all work out.
Latino-Review: When you’re talking about the theme of motherhood—are you talking about being a single mother or being a crazy helicopter mom?
Salome Breziner: I think it’s a little bit of both. People in today’s world have families on whether it’s an organic family or a family they make that are not traditional. Motherhood is the hardest and most fulfilling job you’ll ever have. We don’t all come into it appropriately appropriate. But if you do everything for your children from a place of love then it should be accepted.
Some of the helicopter parents that I’ve witnessed are total eye rollers. What I’ve noticed is that no matter on how appropriate or inappropriate you are—you’ll still find a way to embarrass your children. It’s just the landscape. [Laughter]
Latino-Review: Do you have children yourself?
Salome Breziner: I do.
Latino-Review: You’re not a helicopter mom to your own children, right?
Salome Breziner: Well, I am in a lot of ways. I try to not right all my damage on them. A lot of times we laugh about it. I’m not the most perfect parent. I have two boys who are eleven and thirteen—they’re much more like Jason Dolley’s character. They’re much appropriate than I am sometimes. They will roll their eyes on some things and I would say, “Did you see what mommy did? That’s the don’t. Just use me as the don’t example.” [Laughter]
We try to do things with a sense of humor. I try to explain to them that everybody is a little different. Just be accepting and don’t have to be embarrassed. Just own it. [Laughter]
Latino-Review: I don’t have any kids myself. I’ve heard that teenage kids are the toughest ones to raise and nowadays you’ll have to contact them through social media. [Laughter]
Salome Breziner: Absolutely! My son would text me, “Hey! Can I have some cookies?” He’s literally in the next room to me. I would text back, “Hey! You have legs. Go walk to the kitchen.” You got to have some sense of humor on how things are.
I understand the need for helicopter moms. Some people are not fulfilled in their own lives. That’s to me to be a bit sad, because it’s an incredible burden to put on your own children. They’re the fulfillment to your life and you’re driving them nuts. That’s the dark side of the helicopter parents.
Sometimes you want to be the most outstanding parent and in doing so you would make the most outrageous cupcakes. Maybe you try too hard to be cool. Then it backfires and there’ll be a lot of humor in that.
Latino-Review: That’s true. I probably would rather have a mom that cares and a mom that doesn’t care at all.
Salome Breziner: Right. Sometimes unfortunately, my kids go to a private school and I’ve watched some of these moms. They just want to look a certain way or do a certain thing that they think everybody wants from them. It’s not coming from a place of concern rather than they just want to look good.
To me, I want my kids to be supported, accepted and to give them the best shot that I could possibly give them. And I do want to not to write my own personal drama on them. A lot of parents, unfortunately, play out their own dramas through their children.
Latino-Review: This movie also has a secondary theme to it. It has a gay/bisexual storyline for the film. Could you talk a little more about this path to take on for this movie?
Salome Breziner: There are a lot of different issues people we need to deal with these days. Sexuality is one of them in a world where now there’s a lot more acceptance of the lifestyle. They should be able to make their own choices without being pressured or into labeling themselves one way or another. I think it’s part of growing up. It’s the exploration on who one is.
We do it as a joke as she didn’t want to be left be another man so she uses it to her advantage. Ultimately, she wanted her son to be happy and accepted on whether it’s gay, straight or likewise. I want that message to be universal. I don’t think a kid at the age of sixteen knows on whether he’s gay, straight or anything. He should be allowed to explore himself without being labeled.
Latino-Review: That’s a message portrayed in a lot of movies now. It’s presenting more gay themes into movies now, which is on the right path. Am I correct?
Salome Breziner: Yes! I think so. Love is love. Family is family. Just like that modern day families may not be traditional—I don’t think our culture today is very traditional. I think the job as a parent is to raise their kid to think on their own and be their own person. It’s not to exert your will on them, but to guide them with love into making the best decisions.
I always say to my kids on when they ask me a difficult question by saying, “You to do whatever you think it’s best for you. You know right. And you know wrong. Take it from there.” I’m not going to judge them. I think that’s an important message to take across.
It goes with the bullying. That’s why there’s so much bullying. I do believe it’s due to bad parenting.
Latino-Review: I’ll have to agree with you on that one. Was it hard to balance the comedy since there were all these different real themes?
Salome Breziner: Absolutely. We did a lot of improv. I could’ve made the movie a lot of more inappropriate. [Laughter] It comes off as funny that way. There’s a fine line between insulting and funny.
Latino-Review: Could you discuss the improvisation for the movie which leads to the perfect flow for the movie between Nia Vardalos and Jason Dolley?
Salome Breziner: When I got the script, my biggest challenge was that whoever played the helicopter mom to let her bring herself into it. It shouldn’t be a cookie cutter role. Nia and I really crafted the role based on our experiences in motherhood—both good and bad. As long as we hit the essence of the themes, I pretty much let her do different takes and versions of funny lines and funny improvs.
We had a pretty good time in doing it. It shaped the character into a very relatable real person that at times can be really annoying. It’s like everybody’s mom at times can be really annoying. [Laughter] We always tried to have fun with it, but always from a place with love.
Latino-Review: Thanks for this conversation. I want to wish you good luck on this project.
Salome Breziner: Thank you.
“Helicopter Mom” is currently available on VOD and iTunes.