John Waters made more accessible films in the 1990s than he had in the past, but this doesn't mean they were any less biting, just less obvious. Serial Mom is often dismissed as too commercial, but that criticism is taking this wonderful satire at face value. Waters takes a page out of Blue Velvet and adds his own kitchy, gross-out stamp. By juxtaposing happy suburbia and senseless violence he points out how eating chicken at the dinner table can be as ugly as ripping someone's heart out. If you look under the paper-thin surface of the Sutphin family, you can see Waters attacking every value and stereotype of the politically correct 1990s. He lashes out against such ideas as entertainment's influence on real life violence, the death penalty, the media's treatment of criminals, Hollywood and celebrity, TV sitcoms and courtroom dramas, and conventional ideas of how serial killers are created by society. These are all the things that Oliver Stone claimed he was trying to expose in the much talked about Natural Born Killers, his media/serial killer satire that came out the same year. Serial Mom hits all the points much more effectively, is more subtle and thought-provoking, and much funnier. Unfortunately, without the cooked-up controversy and studio-driven publicity, only a lucky few saw Waters' superior film in theaters. It has since reached many more on video and cable.
by Scott Engel review