Obviously a vanity project by Kevin Bacon for his lovely wife Kyra Sedgwick, Loverboy features a bizarre almost startling performance by Sedgwick. Put the whole movie down as an admirable failure, it's a good try, but the movie is constantly at odds with itself as though Bacon is struggling to achieve the right form and tone.
From the opening scenes we know there is something not quite right with Emily Stoll (Sedgwick). She's a 30-ish single woman whose parents have left her a large trust fund. She conveniently doesn't have to work and has no interest in establishing a conventional home or relationships. All she wants is a child and is determined to have one by any means necessary.
She travels the country in search of men whose genetic material meets her exacting standards. After countless fruitless sexual encounters - including a quickie amongst the stacks of a library - Emily returns to her home in Chicago dispirited and at a loss. Finally, however, gets pregnant by a poetic commodities trader (Campbell Scott) whom she meets in the elevator.
Nine months later, voila: a child is born unto her, she names him Paul and in a voice over, she describes her son's early years as some kind of idyllic existence. The story then jumps to when Paul (Dominic Scott Kay) is 6-years-old and developing an independent streak -- which mom views as a full-blown crisis, trouble sets in when Paul asks to go to school and mix with all the other boys and girls.
Home-schooled in bizarre, haphazard fashion by an overeducated mother with no grasp of age-appropriate teaching, he quickly tires of Mum's games and camping out in the back yard. Because Emily is unhinged from the start and wants Paul all to herself, she takes Paul on an abrupt "vacation" trip to a remote, off-season coastal cottage where they can be alone together.
But even here there are nosy, overfriendly neighbors, with whom Paul gets along dismayingly well, especially the hunky geologist/fisherman Mark (a really hot Matt Dillon), who clearly wouldn't mind completing the "family" as husband and father. As Emily feels as though she's beginning to lose control of Paul, her world begins to spiral out of control and she panics even more when he eventually goes to school and she can't bear her "genius" son to become "just" a normal kid.
Periodically Bacon inserts flashbacks starring himself and Marisa Tomei as Emily's mother and father and Sandra Bullock as a kindly and hip neighbor in a half-hearted attempt to explain why she turned out the way she did. Emily's feelings of security were crushed by her parents who were too absorbed in each other to take much of an interest in their little girl.
Apart from the awkward structure, what stops this film being a good film is the intrusive soundtrack that seems to deaden much of the obsessive mother-son drama-taking place. Likewise the visual aspects are muddled with interludes of soft-focus, skewed angles and distorted lenses. If all this means to illustrate that Emily lives in a dream world, it backfires - her hyper-controlling nature is at odds with a showy production that's all over the map.
Sedgwick is very good here; it's just a pity that she can never seem to rise above the material she's been given. Meanwhile, the events leading up to the fateful climax feel like they're taken from a completely different movie. There are some nice moments, and even disturbing ones - but the over-stylized gimmicky production values that don't really work end up hampering and weighing down what could possibly have been a good film. Mike Leonard September 06.