Two films coming out of the Tribeca Film Festival bear viewing. 12 Hour Shift and Call Your Mother, both directed by women, represent the comedic side of the festival.
With 12 Hour Shift, writer/director Brea Grant delivers a macabre, dark-sided comedy about female organ traffickers in a hospital. We don’t learn this until acerbic, dour nurse Mandy (Angela Bettis) works her double shift. But we discover their dark dealings when, on a break, the nurse meets her relative (Chloe Farnworth) to effect a black market organ trade.
However, Mandy finds it difficult to insure an effective hand-off. First, she’s an addict obsessed with her drug supply. Second, clueless “cousin” Regina upsets her because of her negligent, undisciplined attitude. Mandy rejects any possibility of Regina’s familial ties. Ironically, Mandy notes the danger of Regina’s brainless behavior not displayed in Mandy’s family.
With clueless abandon, Regina misdirects herself. She aborts the kidney delivery by losing the organ. Her handlers threaten that if she doesn’t deliver it, they will take hers.
Moderating the sardonic elements toward the bizarre, the director raises the stakes. By the time Mandy and Regina separately secure replacement organs, chaos overtakes the Arkansas hospital. And complications spiral into comedic mayhem when police admit for treatment injured convict Jefferson (David Arquette).
Though Bettis’s Mandy is the astute anchor of the film, Farnworth carries the comedy. And supporting players Kit Williamson, Nikea Gamby-Turner, and wrestling legend Mick Foley add to the dark, wild insanity.
In Call Your Mother, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady investigate the relationship successful comedians have with their mothers. Believing there’s a universal shared humor we recognize in the dynamic between a mother and a child, the directors interview comics about this.
From Awkwafina, David Spade, Tig Notaro, Bridget Everett, and Louie Anderson to Bobby Lee, Roy Wood Jr., Jen Kirkman and others, we hear comics discuss their moms’ influence. The directors intercut these interviews with the comics riffing on their mothers. And all the comics employ mom stories in their routines.
Also, we get to meet the mothers of select comedians. Like acorns and oaks, the quirky, funny children don’t fall far from their zany moms,
Some of the most enjoyable sections of the documentary include the mothers speaking for themselves. Interestingly, the humor becomes how they disagree with or nudge their children. In some instances the mothers opposed their kids’ going into stand-up comedy.
David Spade credits his mother with a sense of humor like his. However, when he gets too raw, she cringes.
In meandering answering machine messages, unusual shopping trips, and delightfully lewd songwriting, the mothers reveal their comedic sides. In this inside look into the relationships between successful comedians and their mothers, directors Ewing and Grady showcase endearing, funny perspectives.