lucy paez as zoe (left) and jennifer lopez as the mother (right) in the mother

Eric Milner/Netflix

‘The Mother’ is Netflix’s latest algorithmic hit

'The Mother' is the latest movie that feels as if it’s designed to be half-watched.


Michelle Jaworski


Posted on Jun 8, 2023   Updated on Jun 9, 2023, 7:41 am CDT

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Netflix’s ever-changing list of Top Movies and Shows has always fascinated me. On the TV side, it’s chock full of Netflix originals that, more often than not these days, are weeks away from being canceled. The movies are closer to what you’d expect to see airing randomly on TNT or TBS on a Saturday, and most of them are things that actually would air on one of those channels versus something Netflix cooked up.

Sometimes, however, a Netflix movie really cooks. For the past few weeks, The Mother, Netflix’s latest forgettable action flick starring Jennifer Lopez as an assassin who comes out of hiding after the dangerous men she crossed over a decade ago target the daughter she gave away, has topped the charts and has been watched 229,300,000 hours, according to Netflix’s self-reported viewership numbers. As I wrote this, the movie bumped The Irishman off of Netflix’s Top 10 list of all-time most popular English language movies. The Mother is now at number eight.

And, after watching it earlier this week after several finales opened my viewing schedule wide open, I question why it caught on. (Also, did that title come about just so people could reference the meme and call Lopez “Mother”? Discuss.)

Directed by Niki Caro (who was behind Disney’s Mulan live-action remake), The Mother jumps around from scene to scene, yet feels much longer than its two-hour run-time. Its action scenes are unmemorable, featuring lots of quick cuts—a far cry from the long shots that are staples of the John Wick franchise—and character-driven shortcuts. Some actors, such as Gael García Bernal, are entirely wasted, and Lopez’s character doesn’t even have a name: She’s literally credited as The Mother. (And did you know that Oscar nominee Paul Raci is also in this movie? Because I sure didn’t until he showed up onscreen.)

Lopez commits, but it doesn’t have much else to offer. Want to see Lopez in action mode? Take your pick. But if you’re looking for another movie where she dons furs, watch Hustlers instead.

Why it matters

The Mother is the latest movie that feels as if it’s designed to be half-watched, something you put on in the background while you scroll on your phone. Seemingly, for Netflix, it doesn’t matter if people like what they’re watching, or if it makes much sense.

The company only cares if it has command of one of your screens. And its “successes” mean we’re only going to get more of these phone movies. That’s bad for us.

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*First Published: Jun 8, 2023, 6:00 am CDT
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