Loverboy (2005) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's notes

Loverboy is a Kevin Bacon film starring his wife Kyra Sedgwick. The cast also includes Marisa Tomei, Sandra Bullock, Blair Brown, Oliver Platt, Matt Dillon, Bacon, and Bacon's children. Although IMDb lists this as a Drama/Romance, it was one of the more chilling films I have seen. The story is told in a series of flashbacks, where the present day is in the front seat of a car where Sedgwick is teaching her six-year-old son to drive. In the series of flashbacks, we see how she had a troubled upbringing, and decided she had no interest in men or marriage, but desperately wanted a child. Her first plan was to screw a succession of men and give birth to a perfect kid. That ended in a miscarriage. She was about to give up when she was seduced and impregnated by a conventioneer. She decided that the resulting child was her own personal property, and would be raised by her to be an exceptional child. Since her parents had left her some money, she could afford to do what she wanted. Rather than enter her son in kindergarten, she does her own version of home schooling, but the boy soon longs for friends his own age and wants to start school. As the film goes on, we see how disturbed the mom is.

In the feature length commentary Kevin Bacon praised Dominic Scott Kay, who played the son, but the boy did not impress me with his ability. He had the proper precociousness, but I didn't buy all of his line readings. On the other hand, Bacon did a great job of choosing locations and putting together a highly professional film without much money. Loverboy was a very low budget effort, but that didn't show, and in the last analysis the story affected me deeply, which speaks to how well it was made. I have known obsessive mothers like this, and that made the film a very painful experience.



  • No features
  • the transfer is anamorphically enhanced, and is not especially vivid



Kyra Sedgwick shows breasts, buns, and a hint of bush during the early stages of the film.

Scoop's notes


The good news: the Loverboy script is one of Shakespeare's greatest works.

The bad news: it's HANNAH Shakespeare.

Loverboy is, at least in theory, a melodrama about a psychotically possessive mother. I added the stipulation because the story also includes some moments of bizarre and perhaps inappropriate comedy. 

The mother in question was raised by parents who were so wound up in one another that they barely noticed her. She resolves to be the opposite kind of parent, and succeeds perfectly. After a circuitous process, she manages to conceive a child and instantly makes her offspring into her full-time job. (Her parents left her financially independent.) All of this seems beautiful while the child is an infant because the mother is loving, doting and totally attentive. But ominous signs appear whenever the boy starts to develop curiosity about the outside world. His mother insists that he keep his focus entirely on her. She reacts in increasingly extreme ways whenever she has any type of competition for her son's attention, so that her mental state is gradually revealed to be not attentive, but smothering.

This film really struggles to find an appropriate tone. The mother's own childhood is recalled in flashbacks, and since the past is seen not as objective history but through her own disturbed memories,  her parents (played by Bacon and Marisa Tomei) are seen as grotesque caricatures of thoughtless, self-absorbed 70s-era hipsters. Bacon does his best impersonation of Dr. Hunter Thompson, as filtered through Eugene Levy's own 1970s character, comedian Bobby Bittman, clad in tacky leisure suits and constantly misfiring rapid-fire remarks which are designed to be funny. There's nothing wrong with the Tomei-Bacon scenes. They are pretty funny when considered on their own. And there's nothing wrong with the fact that the characters are so one-dimensional, because they exist only in the mother's tormented memories. It's just that, well, the zany comedy seems to be in a different movie from the tragic story which unfolds in the present. The inconsistency of the tone runs through the film's other flashbacks as well. Momma's attempts at conception, for example, play out as a sex farce.

I think the ending of the film is supposed to be a surprise, but I only know that because some other people have mentioned it. I saw the very first scene and immediately concluded that the mother was committing suicide and taking her son with her. I mean, they are in the car, the kid is behind the wheel, the ignition is clearly on, they've packed enough for a day trip, and the car is in park. What else could it be? Maybe I would have enjoyed the film more if I had been aware that there was supposed to be a secret. I can't say.

While we're on the subject of that ending, the film didn't even have the courage of its convictions. The boy survives the carbon monoxide poisoning. After the suicide has been revealed (along with the similarly grotesque fate of Bacon and Tomei in the flashbacks), it tacks on a strangely sentimental epilogue in which the boy is revealed to have grown to young adulthood, and is remembering his mother's tenderness with sad fondness. The film got a bit muddled there, perhaps because Bacon made some changes to the original story and those changes required other elements to be reinterpreted. In the book, both the mother and the son survived the suicide. Bacon decided that he wanted the mother to die, but that change required other changes, especially the disastrous epilogue. Is this a film about an eccentric, loving woman who was a bit misguided? It seems to be that at first. Then it seems to be a satire with a pitch-black sense of humor. Then it seems to be a melodrama about a deranged psychopath. Then the epilogue returns it to "lovable but troubled eccentric" mode.

My final problem with the film is its repetitiousness. It makes the point that the mother overreacts to competition for her son's attention. Then it makes the point again, and again, and ...

It played at Sundance in 2005, but distributors knew that the film was totally unmarketable, so it was never in more than ten theaters, and even that perfunctory release occurred more than a year after its festival premiere. Because of the Sundance exposure, it did pick up some reviews, almost universally negative. (18% positive, per RT.)

Loverboy was Kevin Bacon's second full-length directorial effort, following many years after the other, a 1996 Showtime film called Losing Chase. I can see that Bacon has some talent as a director, and he certainly has the ability to attract talented people to his projects. This micro-budget film is full of name actors in tiny roles. Bacon also has the ability to draw on the considerable acting talents of his wife (who played the lead here) and himself. Given all those elements, I'll bet he has a good movie or two in him somewhere.

The Critics Vote ...


The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, Tuna graded the film a C, as a meaningful, powerful drama. Scoop agrees with the grade, but did not enjoy the film, finding it repetitious and irritatingly inconsistent.

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