If you’ve seen other ‘girls gone nuts’ movies like “Fatal Attraction,” “Single White Female,” and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” then there’s really no need to buy a ticket to “When the Bough Breaks” unless you want to see a forgettable (yet oddly satisfying) movie that offers more of the same. This isn’t a total stinker (the movie delivers and meets expectations) but it’s something that you’d be better off watching on HBO when you can’t sleep.
I won’t rehash the plot here because it really doesn’t matter; you already know what to expect. The film is a predictable thriller and therefore any attempts at suspense are wasted. It’s not exciting when we already know what’s coming in the end. If you are a fan of this genre, then nearly everything in this film is something you’ve undoubtedly seen many, many times before. We have the discovery of a secret (dark) hidden past, a family pet that goes missing, obligatory scenes of a wackadoodle obsessed girl (Jaz Sinclair) attempting to seduce the man of the house, and more routine plot points and situations. The script isn’t anything spectacular but at least there are a few little twists and surprises to keep viewers interested.
The film looks and feels slick and polished and is surprisingly well directed by Jon Cassar, but it suffers from watered-down content due to its PG-13 rating. The movie’s biggest strength comes from the quality performances from reliable leads Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall. These two actors are always immensely enjoyable and they play their characters here with sincerity and depth. Too bad the story isn’t meaty enough to support their efforts.
Laura (Regina Hall) and John Taylor (Morris Chestnut) are a successful couple who are trying to have a baby. They find Anna Walsh (Jaz Sinclair) to serve as a surrogate. Anna presents herself as the perfect candidate for surrogacy: a quiet, humble, and sweet-natured woman who is appreciates the chance to help the Taylors have a child. But Anna is not all she seems; as Anna begins to lose her grip on reality, she manipulates the Taylors by using the baby she’s carrying to threaten them.
“When the Bough Breaks” mostly achieves what it sets out to accomplish by delivering a strictly by-the-numbers thriller. Disappointingly, however, there isn’t much substance to this style. Hampered by its “PG-13” rating, the film doesn’t push things far enough to be memorable, and takes itself too seriously to be fun. Given how relatively tame it is, the picture would have been better if it embraced melodrama and increased the camp factor. Alas, by taking itself seriously the movie misses an opportunity and as a result cannot be anything more than a run-of-the-mill thriller that won’t be seen by many. Those that do will forget having seen it within the space of a week.