TULLY: While we extol the virtues of motherhood during this month in the interest of familial love and commerce, women who experience it firsthand know that it’s sometimes a crappy, no-pay, thankless series of never ending tasks that wears on the psyche. Those attributes of the institution are apparent in the daily grind of a stressed out mother (Charlize Theron) whose existence is one of sleepless nights, vomit stained rugs and daily struggles with an emotionally troubled child (Asher Miles Fallica). Enter a young, charismatically personable “night nanny” (Mackenzie Davis) with a free spirit plus a knack for soothing infants and overwhelmed mothers who wonder where their lives went. Before you can say, “Gen Z Mary Poppins”, mom is sleeping through the night, coping more effectively with her challenges and even relating better to her workaholic, detached husband (Ron Livingston). I’m thoroughly convinced that the attractive in real life Theron (MONSTER) is a far more absorbing, watchable actress when she “deglamourizes” herself to play a character who’s on the frumpy side or downright homely as she does here. Her chemistry with Davis (ALWAYS SHINE) is a palpable one that drives Diablo Cody’s (JUNO) screenplay which has an edgy, raw humanity that any put upon mom will relate to. I only wish that the movie didn’t veer off as tonally as it does in its third act when the distinctions between fantasy and reality become abruptly and inexplicably blurred. That’s not a good fit for a narrative that was at its most impactful when it accurately depicted the messiness and monotony of raising children. Instead, it’s likely to cause some viewers to scratch their heads and ask, “Okay. What just happened here?” I’ll leave it at that because the positives outweigh the negatives of a movie that isn’t afraid to explore “the dark side” of motherhood before reminding us that it’s the toughest job that most women will ever love. CRITIC’S GRADE: B

CLOSING CREDITS: Here are my 10 all-time favorite moms in the movies I’ve seen (in ascending order): 10. Sophia Loren in TWO WOMEN (1960) 9. Meryl Streep in ONE TRUE THING (1998) 8. Glenn Close in THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP (1982) 7. Ellen Burstyn in ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974) 6. Sandra Bullock in THE BLIND SIDE (2009) 5. Laurie Metcalfe in LADY BIRD (2017) 4. Jane Darwell in THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940) 3. Anne Revere in NATIONAL VELVET (1944) 2. Shirley MacLaine in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983) 1. Irene Dunne in I REMEMBER MAMA (1948)