I honestly find no joy in dogpiling on a universally reviled piece of 90s media, mostly because there’s nothing really left for me to add after all this time.
Case in point: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992) has been an industry laughing-stock ever since it was released and remains a stain on Sylvester Stallone’s illustrious career.
Not only did the film “win” three big Golden Raspberry awards, but critics across the board absolutely torn it apart, with Roger Ebert famously calling this action-comedy “one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen” twice in a single review.
Even Stallone holds nothing but contempt for this project. In 2006 interview with Ain’t It Cool News the actor pegged it as “maybe one of the worst films in the entire solar system” and that “a flatworm could write a better script.”
The movie-going public also remained largely ambivalent to this star-studded vehicle, since the film only regained 63% of its $45 million budget at the domestic box office (although it did go on to gross around $70 million thanks to international audiences).
But my guiding philosophy is that every famously bad movie is worth a revisit just in case I end up finding something worth recommending (check out my write-up of You Light Up My Life for proof of that).
However, in this instance I’m going to have to fall in line with the critical consensus, because Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot fucking sucks!
The film’s plot follows Stallone’s tough-as-nails LAPD police sergeant Joseph Bomowski, whose world is turned upside down when he gets a visit from his overbearing, elderly mother Tutti (played by Estelle Getty from The Golden Girls).
When Tutti witnesses a murder on the streets of Los Angeles, Joe is forced to keep her around for a longer period of time and tolerate her excessive mothering as he tries to catch some illegal gun dealers.
Of course, the two eventually team up to nab the bad guys and to make sure the screenwriters have an excuse to shoehorn the movie’s title into a cringe-inducing line of dialogue.
Like Stallone pointed out in that 2006 interview, the film’s biggest offense is its script.
Even though the two leads have decent chemistry, the “overbearing mother-exasperated son” dynamic gets old quickly and doesn’t develop past something you would see in a two-minute SNL sketch.
You never get a real sense of where this familial dysfunction came from or why Joe has allowed it to continue well into his adult life. There’s some passing mention of Joe’s father dying when he was a kid, leaving Tutti all alone to raise him, but it’s not explored in any significant detail.
Beyond that, around 95% of the jokes land with a dull thud, since the screenwriters only find two things funny: Stallone getting embarrassed and Getty using harsh language occasionally.
For some reason, they also thought it was a good idea for this Golden Girl to quote lines from Dirty Harry and The Terminator, which is the comedy equivalent of your own mom tagging you in an outdated meme on Facebook.
Additionally, the screenwriters have a tough time keeping Getty’s character consistent in terms of her intelligence.
Despite the fact that Tutti showcases pretty impeccable crime detection ability, she still can’t grasp pretty basic stuff like how it’s not a good idea to wash your son’s service weapon in the sink.
All these script writing problems culminate in the film’s finale, where (SPOILERS) the filmmakers expect us to take Tutti’s side and castigate Joe for being too uptight.
Even though the ending is meant to be heartwarming, I couldn’t help but think that none of their underlying problems were resolved and that Joe is going to turn into Norman Bates somewhere down the line.
If it seems like I’m spending way too much time analyzing this movie’s shallow script, it’s because Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot doesn’t bring anything else interesting to the table.
Not only is Roger Spottiswoode’s direction flat, but all of the side characters are boring carboard cutouts and the music seems like it was composed by a computer program set on “default.”
Admittedly, some of the stunts and practical effects are well done. There’s a particularly impressive scene during the film’s climax where Stallone drives a big-rig truck into an airplane propeller.
But those moments are few and far between and don’t make up for the rest of the movie being a total misfire.
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot also isn’t hilariously bad enough to be put in the same category as other famous 90s disasters like Cool As Ice (1991) or Batman and Robin (1997).
Say what you will about those latter two films, but at least the people behind them had a vision and managed to produce something that was entertaining in terms of how misguided it was.
This Stallone vehicle is pretty lifeless by comparison, since the filmmakers never take any risks and just rely on recycling a bunch of tired buddy-cop clichés instead.
So does Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot earn its status as one of the worst high-profile movies of that decade? Maybe.
But will I ever watch it again to gleefully gawk at the sheer level of incompetence that managed to make it on screen? Definitely not.
Corner store companion:
Glad garbage bags (because this movie is trash)
-Release date: Feb. 21, 1992
-Box office gross: $28,411,210 (US), $70, 611, 210 (worldwide)
–Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot officially “won” three Razzie Awards in 1993 for Worst Actor (Stallone), Worst Supporting Actor (Getty) and Worst Screenplay (Blake Snyder, William Osborne, William Davies).
-The 20th episode of The Simpsons’ 18 season is titled “Stop! Or My Dog Will Shoot” in reference to this film.
-Unexpected cameo: Ving Rhames plays one of the thugs that Stallone takes out in the opening scene of the movie.
-Director Roger Spottiswoode would recover from this giant flop by directing some much better action films in the future, including the 18th entry in the James Bond franchise Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).
-Arnold Schwarzenegger famously tricked Stallone into starring in this film, feigning interest in the project in order to get his big screen rival to audition. Schwarzenegger confirmed this story during a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel in October of this year.