When a cute couple (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) move into an old house, their eldest son bonks his head in the attic and becomes comatose. Then it gets weirder: Demons pace the floors at night, voices mumble on the baby monitor and a bloody handprint appears on the kid’s sheets. Recalling Paranormal Activity, this spooky movie chills as it brings psychic phenomena to the cozy suburbs. And with Damages‘ sympathetic Byrne as a gripping lead, the audience suspends disbelief — and jumps! — until the final plot twist.
January 19, 2011
By SUSANNAH MEADOWS
By Thelma Adams
291 pages. Thomas Dunne Books. $23.99.
Like a chick-lit version of Tom Perrotta’s “Little Children,” Ms. Adams’s debut novel chronicles the action among stay-at-home types. Lance is an unemployed weatherman who readies the cookies and milk for his 10-year-old daughter; after his wife awakens him one morning in an effort to get pregnant again, he feels like “an avocado molested by a budget shopper.” The poor guy finds comfort soon enough in the contorted tantric pose of his daughter’s friend’s mom, Wren. Although Ms. Adams — the film critic for Us magazine — ribs her characters and their Aveda Shampure-using, nacho-soy-chip-eating ways, she’s not without love for them. In the end, she even saves them from their bored, lame selves.
When a novel starts with the Santa Ana winds about to bear down on a well-groomed California suburb, you know havoc will ensue. In the manner of Tom Perotta’s Little Children (2006), Playdate follows the complicated, about-to-explode life of a modern-day, stay-at-home, suburban dad. Nice-guy Lance has given up his career as a TV weatherman to help his high-powered wife, Darlene, start a new business. His days are consumed with caring for their daughter, Bella; trying to impregnate his reluctant wife; and having tantric sex with the wife of his wife’s business partner. The early introduction of tantric yoga (i.e., sex) puts the novel squarely in the satire category, but Adams is not completely content to let the story rest there….Discussions of modern parenting, marriage, and gender roles fill almost every chapter as the impending storms threaten everything from Darlene’s new business to Bella’s birthday party….The novel is an enjoyable… romp through modern suburban life.
— Marta Segal Block