Introducing the Dwights, the latest entry in the “imported older-adult performance film” genre that was epitomized by The Full Monty, is tailormade for formerly hip parents whose children are about to leave the nest. Jean Dwight (Brenda Blethyn from Mike Leigh’s 1996 Secrets and Lies) put her career as a stand-up comic on hold to become a mother, but now that her two sons, Tim (Khan Chittenden) and Mark (Richard Wilson), are almost all grown up, she decides to go back to the stage. Audiences, however, seem to be less than interested in her “vulgar mother” persona; on top of that, both her children have finally discovered girls, which only adds to Jean’s feeling of emptiness and isolation.
For all its cathartic kicking and screaming (and drinking and blubbering), there’s not much of a story here, just a lot of conventional wisdom about growing up and growing older, that we’ve all seen and heard before. At her best, Brenda Blethyn’s performance borders on Mommie Dearest-territory, but every potentially interesting dark undertone is erased by a cringe-inducing happy ending that is all too reminiscent of Little Miss Sunshine.