This article, aptly titled “Movie Moms” begins with the statement, “‘M’ is for the many… movies about Mother” and addresses the roles that mothers play in Hollywood cinema. Diane Dudek recognizes that the role of the mother in film is often trivialized or stereotyped, which actually echoes real life, as many mothers feel that their role is taken for granted. Dudek acknowledges that countless portrayals of particular roles in film are stereotyped or at least shown inaccurately, and finds the role of the mother to be no exception. Dudek humorously states that mothers in film are typically the “epicenter of trauma, sacrifice, Prozac and Oedipal conflicts.” That being said, Dudek sees the lack of variety in the role of mothers in film to be improving. This can be attributed to the increasing variety in the roles of women, and therefore mothers, in real life; however, mothers in film are now taking on roles of the female equivalent of classic aggressive and violent male prototypes. Examples of this role include Meryl Streep’s character in The River Wild and Jamie Lee Curtis in Mother’s Boys. Dudek includes quotes from Phyllis Threinen, the founder of the Call Mom Line, a support group for women, and Susan Martin, “keeper” of the Moms-At-Home website, to provide further evidence for the disparity between the role of mothers in society and how they are portrayed in film.
Dudek organizes the role of mothers in film into six categories: Saintly Moms, Vengeful Moms, Stage Moms, Oedipal Moms, Mothers & Daughters, and Miscellaneous Moms. Dudek provides numerous examples of films that portray mothers in all six of these categories. She uses the example of Mrs. Robinson, from Mike Nichols’ The Graduate, as the epitome for Oedipal Moms. Though there are two mothers portrayed in The Graduate, and Mrs. Robinson is not actually Benjamin’s mother, Dudek argues that she serves as a “mother surrogate.” One might argue that Benjamin’s relationship with Mrs. Robinson is one between lovers and not a mother/son relationship; however, even when they have been sleeping together for a long period of time, Benjamin still refers to her as Mrs. Robinson, solidifying her role as an elder. The development of Benjamin’s relationship with Elaine, in which Mrs. Robinson truly is the biological mother figure, further contributes to Mrs. Robinson’s role as a mother surrogate.