While bad parenting may have reached epidemic proportions in movies, the most recurrent dysfunctional family villains of choice seem to be mean mommies. And especially a target for heaps of thematic abuse, are women would would like to be more than just mothers and housewives. In other words, a mother yearning for a life beyond that of spouse, domestic servant and house pet, is pretty much portrayed as either selfish or a deplorable misfit.
And documentarian turned feature film writer/director James Mottern’s Trucker is no exception. The movie stars Michelle Monaghan as Diane, a hard-bitten long distance LA independent trucker who seems to have decided that to survive in that predominantly male world, you have to essentially be one.
As a result, the audience is treated to a whole list of stereotypical bad dad traits, except it’s a woman this time around. And that means everything from cussin’, macho beer guzzling, and aggressive and indifferent stranger sex, where Diane by the way insists on paying for the hotel room, to abandoning your son at birth because independent-minded women just happen to lack the mommy gene and haven’t a clue about loving anyone.
But Diane gets a far from subtle, narratively in-you-face wakeup call when her baby papa ex-hubby single dad Len, aka Mr. Mom (Benjamin Brat) is incapacitated with terminal colon cancer. So he sends over their eleven year old son Peter (Jimmy Bennett, the young James Kirk in Star Trek), the newborn she walked out on a long time ago, to stay with her. And as mother and son begin to awkwardly resolve their mutually hostile relationship with one another, Diane stumbles into confronting the error of her anti-maternal ways. And along an emotionally bumpy road that is as about as surprising as her routine highway trucker route.
Monaghan does her best to breathe intensity and nuance into her character and stay three dimensional in a flat role, but she never gets to sink her teeth into what makes this obsessively ballsy babe tick. And lacking in any back story as to why this particular female seems to both hate men and want to be one, we can only be left with the filmmaker’s assumption that females who aspire to be more than mothers and housewives, unlike men with careers, are up for blame as basically bad people. Hey Diane, keep on truckin’.