Average Mom, which won the Gold Award for Best Inspirational Short at the 2018 Christian Film Festival, is about a thrifty, cliché-spouting single mother named Kate, who has an extraordinary impact on her teenage son, Sam, and the people she makes contact with, despite the quirky package she comes wrapped in.
Here’s a woman so frugal that she uses a hand-held vacuum to get the dandruff out of her son’s hair, rather than ponying up for a bottle of Head & Shoulders. She waits till the last minutes of a sale to get the best deal, risking whether she’ll get one of the two remaining Halloween costumes that Sam wants. When the costume sells out, and it’s too late to buy a replacement, she resourcefully stays up all night making him a pirate costume that — against the odds — wins first place in the school contest.
There may not be a cliché that she has not drilled into his head, but Kate also has instilled in Sam a persistence that propels him to apply for a job at an ice-cream shop, despite some unfriendly teenaged opposition. The shop is owned by an Indian who speaks with a lisp, who calls in every now and then to make sure Dylan, the self-centered teen who works for him, answers the phone correctly — as in “what flavor would you like to lick today?” rather than your garden-variety “Hello.” Sam shows up in search of employment, but Dylan, who prefers to speak in Internet shorthand (EOD for “end of discussion” and SICR for “Sorry, I couldn’t resist”), won’t forward his application because he says the position has been filled. Turns out, Dylan has promised the opening to seemingly every girl he tries to impress.
Dylan is so narcissistic that, even in the middle of a daydream, his fantasy girl stalks off, saying, “You’re too self-centered to share a fantasy with. I’m going to go live in someone else’s head.” That’s just TBFD — too bad for Dylan that even imaginary women are leaving him. He apologizes to Sam for lying about the job opening — which Sam fills by persistence and opportunistic thinking anyway — and then pleads for Sam to ask Kate how Dylan can get his “mojo” back. Seems that his selfishness is really turning off the ladies. Who knew?
While we can question whether Dylan really learned anything at all, because his request is still all about him, we see that for all his mother’s quirkiness, Sam has learned well what she taught him — thriftiness, selflessness and persistence, among other things. Sam tells Dylan that he doesn’t need Kate, because all Kate would tell Dylan is “stop thinking about yourself.” As the short ends, Sam says he wants to be just like Kate and skateboards off into his future.
Louie Enriquez was nominated for Best Actor in a Short Film at the 2018 International Christian Film Festival for his portrayal of Sam. Cathy Lynn Yonek, who played Kate, seemingly did everything else in the movie (wrote it, produced it, directed it and even donned a toothpaste costume in it). Her 12 minutes of video show the kind of impact that a parent who’s present and involved can have, even if they are — ahem! — unorthodox in all their ways. The positive message merits the Dove-approved seal for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
This wonderful compact film packs a lot of heart into it and reminds the viewer that mothers are a gift — and too often are taken for granted.