Mayor Cupcake (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
13Dec/112

Mayor Cupcake (2011)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Oh, the Tea Party. The romanticism of unyielding libertarianism has to show up in popular culture outside poorly thought out Ayn Rand adaptations, so I guess its not much of a surprise that a small, inoffensive family comedy would glue itself to the philosophy's teat.

In Mayor Cupcake we learn that by cutting down on city services (you can take your trash to the dump! we can fire city's employees and unemployment will somehow go down!) and deregulating businesses (one character was forced to make bad loans by the government (?!) and his bank went under), and you will become a national icon of all that is good in the country.

It's a deceptively simple case for common sense practicality, even if it seems rather conveniently uncontested by the town. Outside of the villians, of course, who were the ones who mucked up the small Delaware burg in the first place. They were all corrupt to a hilarious degree-- seriously, one of them wears tailored suits and twirls their mustache. Hell, another villain's name is "Bloodworth." Bloodworth.

"Nyah nyah nyah!" Also, the only fat person in the movie is also evil. THANKS.

But the villains prefer to skim money from the townsfolk and engage in open, bald faced lying. The real trouble at the heart of the town's problems is that no one has bothered to confront the town's oligarchy in a decade, and I wholeheartedly agree that small town governments must be monitored with as much or more vigor than those of the more prominent and exceedingly inflated woes on a national scale.

... but maybe I'm getting too much into politics again. Mayor Cupcake strives to create a scenario for down home, rootin' tootin' civic re-acquaintance and pride.

It stars Lea Thompson as the titular cupcake and/or mayor, who bakes the pastries down at the local greasy spoon. She has a cop husband (Judd Nelson), three daughters with randomized precocious personalities but not an inkling of rebellion between them, and a large cast of eccentric characters who will wander from scene to scene and make faces at the camera as necessary.

The film takes a morbid delight in mocking Judd Nelson, though whether its cruelty or joviality-- no, it's cruelty. I'm pretty sure of that. His character's daughters puts on a stage show and sings "Don't You Forget About Me" like some sort of sick joke. For those of you with hazy memories, that's the song that ended The Breakfast Club, and with that, immortalized Nelson to a generation as a rebel who was too cool for school. Thirty years later and he's drifting through this movie in a daze, having his moment of eternal fame rubbed in his face in the form of a cheap self referential joke. This is some late career Bela Lugosi shit right here.

Thompson is charming, as always, but her character here is reluctant to a fault. Not only does she not want to run for mayor (her daughter signs her up), not only does she offer to step down as mayor (only stepping up when some urgent action is needed), not only does she refuse to step into city hall (she sets up shop at the diner she works at, which luckily the owner allows because who needs a half dozen tables in a popular restaurant ever), not only does she fire half of the town's employees (opting instead to do it herself and getting rid of all of the police vehicles since they can do just as well on bikes), but all of this means she's missing out her children's activities, which include being in a generic band and kicking the football. And that makes her more reluctant.

Is public service an unsanitary task? This movie rubs that idea in your face and asks you for a tip afterward.

"I'm Judd Nelson, and I approve this mustache."

I don't believe it is, but I'm not reviewing politics. I don't think this film thinks through its convictions very much, just making Thompson a heroine for not fucking things up any more than they already and leaving the consequences of her actions entirely off camera. You know she's doing good because the same five or six eccentric locals keep telling you she is.

There's nothing wholly offensive about this, and there's nothing offensive about Mayor Cupcake for the most part. It's in the middle of the road, existing for the sake of itself. While I'm sure the filmmakers want you to see this as something akin to Sarah Palin Begins, it's too syrupy sweet for that, or much of anything.

In all honesty, if you replaced Lea Thompson with a Golden Retriever and called this movie Mayor Buddy, you wouldn't have to change a goddamn thing.

Posted by Danny

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. OK, I’m totally necro-ing this comment, but I’m watching Mayor Cupcake, and the unsavory taste of Tea Party came into sudden focus. I googled “Mayor Cupcake Tea Party” and voila, up came this site. Your essay is spot on, and pretty effing hilarious to boot. “Sarah Palin Begins” and “Mayor Buddy”–I’ll be laughing about those for quite some time.

    I’m just agog at the thought processes that went into this little, um, gem of a film. Like, what was the pitch, and who exactly is the moneybags that pushed this little wonder into existence? Certainly not the Hollywood “Liberull Eleets” so beloved of the great unwashed Libertarian/Tea Party masses. I sense a story behind this strange little movie; wheels within wheels…

    Oh yeah–1st prize for the Judd Nelson/Simple Minds tie-in; nice one!


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