There's not much plot to Momma's Man. A pudgy, balding sad sack of a man named Mikey (Matt Boren), seemingly still panicked from the birth of his first child, visits his parents' home in New York City and refuses to leave. It sounds like an underbaked Will Ferrell bomb, but Momma's Man actually more closely resembles 2006's Old Joy—it certainly shares that film's patient pacing and oblique sentimentality—or the funny, pathetic sadness of a Chris Ware cartoon.
The movie has a lot of gimmick to swallow. Writer-director Azazel Jacobs has cast his own mother and father as Mikey's parents, and most of the film is set in the apartment that Jacobs himself grew up in. But it works in just about every way: The Jacobses' cramped apartment, packed to the rafters with junk, becomes just about the second most important character in the movie. As Mikey plows through the boxes of his childhood mementos, old notebooks, and musical instruments that would have been trashed long ago in a normal household, Tobias Datum's cinematography manages to turn what could easily look like a cramped garbage dump into a weird kingdom of undiscovered treasures.
There are missteps here and there—Dana Varon, as Mikey's wife, is a bit too amateurish for the film, and Mikey's emotional transition could have been left a little vaguer—but everything comes together, somehow, in a very satisfying way. Mikey's friend Dante (Piero Arcilesi) has a musical moment that is one of the funniest, saddest scenes I've seen in a movie all year, and Mikey's attempts to leave his parents' apartment crescendo in a slapsticky moment that feels totally earned.