Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot stars Sylvester Stallone and released in 1992 in the dump-off month of February. I have distinct memories of seeing this terrible film in theaters as a child, but the memory is always coupled with 1992’s Fern Gully.
In my memories, I saw both Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot and Fern Gully as part of a double-feature.
Fern Gully came out in early April, while Stop! released at the end of February. Either my memory is wrong, or the studio seriously kept Stop! in theaters for at least six weeks, which would have been insane.
Why a 6-year-old would even want to watch Stop! is one of the more curious questions I have. The only thing I can point to and blame is Tango & Cash which I absolutely loved as a kid. Again, I’m not sure why. However, the most surprising thing about this movie is that the screenplay was actually written by Blake Snyder, author of famed screenwriting bible Save the Cat!
I actually have a copy of the book on my shelf, but after re-watching Stop! I think it may be time to throw the book in the garbage.
Stop! amounts to Stallone’s own Kindergarten Cop, which is appropriate since the only reason Stallone took the role was because Arnold Schwarzenegger lied and said he was interested in the part. Stallone and Schwarzenegger were in a heated rivalry at the time, and Arnold read the script first. After he saw how terrible it was, he used it to his advantage to pull one over on Sly:
So I went in – this was during our war – I said to myself, I’m going to leak out that I have tremendous interest. I know the way it works in Hollywood. I would then ask for a lot of money. So then they’d say, ‘Let’s go give it to Sly. Maybe we can get him for cheaper.’ So they told Sly, ‘Schwarzenegger’s interested. Here’s the press clippings. He’s talked about that. If you want to grab that one away from him, that is available.’ And he went for it! He totally went for it. A week later, I heard about it, ‘Sly is signing now to do this movie.’ And I said, [pumps fist] ‘Yes!’
Stop! is a terrible buddy cop film between a middle-aged man, Joe (Stallone), and his elderly, needling mom Tutti (Estelle Getty). The “plot” is incredibly simple and plods along, and insults your intelligence the entire way. Joe, an Los Angeles cop, is surprised by an unannounced visit by his overbearing mother and her tiny dog.
The running jokes are established early and often. Tutti overshares embarrassing tidbits about Joe, and Joe cries the whole time. It’s funny because he’s a giant macho guy and she’s just a lil’ ol’ lady!
They go back to this “joke” well too many damn times. It starts when Joe picks Tutti up at the airport. Four pilots surround her as she regales them with embarrassing stories of Joe. How many pilots does one plane need? And how did she befriend them? Did she go to the cockpit mid-flight? A stranger approaches Joe, and confides that he, too, used to wet the bed.
Tutti then proceeds to kiss Joe on the mouth and pinch his cheeks like every stereotypical old lady ever. She immediately berates him about his 5 o’clock shadow and denigrades him and says no woman would ever be interested in such a man. Enter three stewardesses who return a comically huge photo album to Tutti and remark how different Joe looks with his clothes on.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. For the rest of the film, it’s just this same exact schtick, but in different scenarios. Remember, the guy who responsible for this screenplay also wrote a bestselling book on how to write screenplays. They also manage to throw as many “mom” tropes into the film as possible.
Tutti cleans (and ruins) Joe’s gun in the sink with bleach and Clorox. Tutti actually has an entire suitcase full of various cleaning products and bleaches, which she’d never be able to do today. But mothers always clean up after their boys, and she comes prepared.
She also constantly overfeeds him. At one point she serves him the most unrealistic spread which included four muffins, four country biscuits, pounds of bacon and sausage, half a grapefruit, a bowl of strawberries, an orange, two different mounds of grapes (red and green), pancakes, toast, hashbrowns, cereal, eggs, honey, syrup, chocolate syrup, six bagels, coffee, milk, and orange juice.
Really, what sort of maniac drinks both milk and orange juice in the same sitting?
The mom tropes continue as Tutti meddles in Joe’s job at the precinct, and tries to salvage Joe’s romantic relationship with his Captain. Much to his chagrin, of course.
At one point Tutti and Joe come across a jumper who threatens suicide on the ledge of a building. Joe goes up to try and talk the man down, to tell him that life is worth living for. Joe discovers the jumper is suicidal because he has issues with his mother. Tutti gets on the megaphone to try to help and, of course, embarrasses Joe so much by showing his baby pictures to the entire crowd that the jumper re-evaluates his own despondency.
After Tutti cleans Joe’s gun and ruins it, she tries to make it up to Joe and buy him a new gun. She meets some black market gun sellers and haggles the price on an uzi before she witnesses a murder which sets up the actual “plot” of the “film.”
Tutti witnesses the murder but won’t allow anyone else to work her case unless it’s her own son, Joe. The “buddy cop” tropes go off the rail at this point as they cross planes with the “overbearing mother” tropes to create a Venn Diagram of absolute fuckery. Tutti drives during a laborious car chase scene, and even blows away the bad guy at the end with a giant .44 Magnum.
The bits or jokes in this film were all used before, and were hacky fifty years old. The dialogue is campy and empty. There’s only so many ways you can say something isn’t funny. That’s the tough part about bad movies that are also intentional comedies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot at the end of the day was funny. It’s actually hilarious, but for all the wrong reasons.
The one reassuring aspect is that the dude who wrote the screenplay, wrote a book on how to sell screenplays. And if Blake Snyder can sell a piece of shit like Stop! then there just might be a modicum of hope for all the other screenwriters out there.
Other Notable Moments:
Joe keeps a spare gun in the dirty clothes hamper.
Joe’s Boss/Love Interest is a hysterical woman who thinks Joe’s cheating on her because he talked on the phone all night with his mother.
Tutti verbally trashes Joe’s nice LA house because it’s not nice enough for her.
They actually do the bit where Tutti opens a closet and everything falls out of it.
Tutti cleans and vacuums all hours of the night, keeping Joe awake.
There’s a LOT of product placement.
Joe drinks Pepto-Bismol straight from the bottle.
All of Tutti’s various cleaning products (Clorox, Mr. Clean, S.O.S. etc.)
Tutti also keeps an entire suitcase full of canned Dole pineapple.