For people who believe that a son can never go home again, "Mother" (1996), co-written by Brooks and Monica Johnson, came as a surprise.
Sci-fi writer John Henderson (Brooks) realizes after two divorces that if he doesn't straighten out his relationship with his mother Beatrice (Debbie Reynolds, in top form), he'll never have stable relationships with women.
He moves back home, trying to figure out what went wrong, hoping to find answers that will make him happier. But as soon as John moves back home, he upsets his family's life. He can't conceal his jealousy of his younger, more successful brother (Rob Morrow), and he's shocked to find out that his mother has a boyfriend and that a mother doesn't hide in a closet when her children grow older. Beatrice pretends she's helpless, but she's independent and strong and actually likes her new world and privacy.
One of the few films–independent or studio–to deal with a mother-son relationship in a comic yet realistic way, Mother was prompted by Brooks' feeling that, as he said: "American movies show two kinds of mothers. The first kind thinks that every single thing their children do is perfect and their children are God's gift to the world. And then there's the other kind. My movie is about the other kind."
"Mother" raises some intriguing questions: Did John (and by implication, all children) move out of their families and go on to adulthood too early Do children really understand their mothers It also conveys children's universal fear of winding up exactly like their mothers. It's a tribute to the film's success that at the end all three characters are awakened to a new awareness and a new life: Mother and two sons are forced to reexamine the real meaning of family.