Late in the going, one of the four characters played by Spacek gets horse manure splattered on her face—in close-up. Nice welcome for this gifted Oscar winner after a two-year absence from the screen.
Trading Mom is a wisp of a family film about three children (Chlumsky and real-life brothers Asher and Aaron Michael Metchik) who magically make their harried single mother (Spacek) disappear after she grounds them for bad behavior. They then head for something called the Mommy Market to select a brand-new mom, running through three substitutes (a Zsa-Zsaish rich shrew, a gung-ho nature enthusiast and a circus performer, all played by Spacek) before realizing that their own mom is the one they really want. Yes, it's a moral a mother can love.
Spacek plugs along gamely, but the one-joke script by first-time director Tia Brelis—based on a novel by her mother, Nancy—asks little more of her than that she change costumes, wigs and accents in nearly every scene, the equivalent of being the host of Saturday Night Live without having to introduce the guest band. (PG)