If you’re looking to channel all of the buried teenage angst and insecurity you have been missing, Ma is the movie for you. It matters not whether you were one of the “cool kids” — this film directly confronts peer pressure as well as “bully” culture. Thanks to this relatability, the main adult character Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) pulls at some of the same compassion strings that one would feel toward a lost, wounded pup.
Ironically, her character is a veterinarian who is approached by some teenagers in a van at a local corner store. She initially blows them off when approached by “new girl” Maggie (Diana Silvers, Booksmart), the daughter of a divorcee (Juliette Lewis) who’s just recently returned to her Midwest high school hometown after pursuing California dreams.
Sue Ann soon realizes, however, that one of the kids happens to be the son of a guy she was obsessed with and subsequently tricked by — Ben Hawkins (Luke Evans, Beauty and the Beast) who is now the owner of a security company. She ultimately extends quite the hospitable invite to party at her house and becomes overbearing as well as obsessive, but before everything predictably and inevitably completely falls apart, she and the minors all have quite the good time.
Her basement begins as a safe haven until everyone quickly discovers that Sue Ann — now known as “Ma” — seriously lacks boundaries. The staggered flashbacks to the ’80s when she was in high school slowly reveal her psychological issues, and there is some very well-executed character building regarding this damaged underdog.
Even with these plusses, the film as a whole is not absolutely fantastic, but it is entertaining. I guess the overall sentiment that rings a bell throughout is to be careful who and how you trust — and yet be fair and kind.