COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 32min

STARRING: Diane Keaton, Dax Shepherd, Liv Tyler

Bar humbug: Shepherd and Keaton

Grande dame Diane Keaton in fizzgig mother mode can be a chore to behold (see Because I Said So — or not). But that’s the whole, hackneyed point of Smother, in which, with her marriage in trouble, domineering ditz Marilyn (Keaton) and her posse of small dogs take up residence in the home of her unwilling son Noah (Employee of the Month’s Shepherd) and his preternaturally obliging wife, Clare (Tyler).


With Clare’s space-cadet cousin (Mr Deadpan Mike White, always a joy) already camped on the couch, put-upon Noah is unamused. What’s more, he has just lost his physical-therapist job and is reduced to flogging carpets, with Marilyn working clerical backup. And Clare is clamouring to have a child.


Bad timing, but a cool comedic launch pad, and for the most part, director Vince Di Maglio and his dead-straight cast (Keaton aside) keep the energy coming. Comedy with heart is such a tricky balance. Yet somehow amid their dizzy imperfections, this crew of mixed nuts manage to find their feet.