This is scarier than a lot of horror movies out there.
Some people were born with a passion for children. Some people are able to always be on — talking to them, taking care of them and cleaning up after them just comes as second nature and they’ll do so with a smile on their face.
Marlo (Charlize Theron) is not one of those people. She’s had two kids now, with a third due to arrive any day now. She knows the sleepless nights that lie ahead and she’s not looking forward to them.
Tully is a new movie from writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman, who have previously teamed up on Juno and Young Adult. Reitman also is known for Up in the Air (a movie I LOVE and doesn’t get nearly as much love as it deserves) and Thank You for Smoking (which is also good).
Then again, he also made Labor Day and Men, Women & Children, so his films can really go either way.
Still, all of Reitman’s films come from a certain place of realism. He doesn’t seem to be interested in making superhero films or giant blockbusters. Rather, his movies depict every day, ordinary life in somewhat of a melodramatic way.
The name Tully comes from the night-nanny who eventually shows up to help Marlo. At first, when Marlo’s brother Craig (Mark Duplass) suggested the idea of hiring a night-nanny, Marlo didn’t ever think she would do it. The idea of a stranger coming into her house to feed and watch over her kids while she sleeps upstairs just seemed too weird.
A couple of parking lot melt-downs and spilled bags of milk — all of which Marlo’s husband Drew (Ron Livingston) did little to help solve — later and she’s had a change of heart.
Enter Tully (Mackenzie Davis), the 20-something night-nurse who has far too much positive energy possible for any one human being.
Tully isn’t just there to rock Marlo’s newborn to sleep; she also wants to help Marlo herself. Marlo hasn’t been getting a lot of rest lately, as she’s been having a lot of anxiety attacks, and Tully makes the point to help ease that tension and that’s probably not good for the kids either.
Along the way, it teaches Marlo a thing or two about self-care as she reflects on motherhood and her life up until this point.
And THEN there’s this Infinity War level of a twist that comes completely out of nowhere (like I didn’t see it coming at all, and my jaw nearly hit the floor) that changes everything. Watching Tully a second time will be a completely different experience, I promise you that.
Which was unexpected, yes, but actually pretty well executed. Looking back, there were plenty of hints that were leading to something, and things very clearly feel off a lot of the time. While you wouldn’t expect Tully to have this crazy left-turn like it does, it’s one that actually does the movie a lot of favors.
Mainly because of some of the subtext that surrounds this twist. Obviously, I’m not going to spoil anything because that would ruin the whole experience, but the messages both in front of and behind this twist are a lot deeper and more mature than you might think.
This isn’t just a movie about the importance of family. While there’s an arch Marlo goes on that helps her rediscover her love for her kids, it’s not an all-out cheese-fest that ends with everyone hugging underneath a Christmas tree.
Really, this is a message about mental health and self-care. Marlo is suffering from a number of mental disorders and Tully comes in and calls her out for all of them. Sometimes these moments can become a bit heavy-handed (again, they make more sense in retrospect), but I admire Tully for taking on this subject matter in the way that it did.
Because, boy oh boy, do they really drive home how difficult having kids are in this movie. Show this movie to any teenager who’s thinking about having unprotected sex and you’ll scare them out of it for the next 50 years. Cody is a mother, so there’s clearly a lot of herself in this movie and that shows. Basically, anyone who actually has kids is a superhero in disguise and my hats are off to you. I, however, am thanking my lucky stars for being the childless person that I am today.
There are some great performances that are boosted in here too. Charlize Theron is good in just about anything she does, which we’re reminded again of in Tully. There’s a lot of subtle nuances in the film — especially in the first half — where she’s able to convey a whole lot just by a sad look or a pause in the conversation.
Mackenzie Davis winds up stealing just about every scene that she’s in. I was worried at first that she would be too much because she invites herself in with such a crazy level of confidence that it almost seemed unbelievable. That feeling quickly left though because Davis makes the character so compelling and charming (okay, might have a slight crush on her, so what) that it ends up working in the long run.
Up in the Air will probably always be my favorite Reitman film, but Tully is still another good entry of his. While it has its flaws, the subject matter and angle that he’s attacking this story from is one that I think will really hit home for a lot of people by the time the credits roll.
Just maybe think twice before bringing a date to this one.
Watch the trailer for Tully here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie.
'Tully' review: I am never having kids. Never.7