A site I like not so long ago used the phrase mom-aged totally innocently in reference to a woman over-40. I know what she meant but because I'm the kind of stickler who would not allow anyone to say it was fall until three days ago I must point out that the average age a women first gives birth in the US is 25, an all time high.
A few months ago while compiling a list of actresses cast with kids old enough to be romantic partners, I realized someone had already done most of my work for me (why did I not know about the awesome TV Tropes? Talk about stickers–there's a discussion about whether Stress Vomit should be stand alone or combined with Vomiting Cop.) and moved on to other things.
But after being re-shocked at Gretchen Moll’s mothering role in last night’s Empire Boardwalk premiere and again noticing “The Forty-two-Year-Old Mother of the Thirty-Year-Old Male Lead” as one of the Hollywood stereotypes brought up by Mindy Kaling in her New Yorker piece, I’m back on it. It is also worth mentioning because I came across one disturbing common denominator: Justin Timberlake.
I nearly started thinking I was having a genuine split from reality when earlier this year I first read about Friends With Benefits. Not because it’s the exact same movie as No Strings Attached, but because people were talking about 39-year-old Jenna Elfman being cast as Justin Timberlake’s mom. What? When Cameron Diaz, who is the exact same age, is allowed to hit on Justin Timberlake as a boozing Bad Teacher?
Of course, this turned out to be false—Elfman plays the older sister—and I am now seeing zero evidence of these possibly imaginary online discussions, which is starting to make me think I’m the one with the problem. I most certainly wasn't hallucinating when I read about Olivia Wilde playing Justin Timberlake's mom, though (never mind that's a sci-fi deal where the wealthy can stop aging).
No matter, there is plenty of filial miscasting elsewhere. Here are a few of my favorite onscreen moms with unbelievably aged children (ages given at the time of the show’s or movie’s release). I don’t have time to find photos of everyone!
Mom: Jennifer Coolidge (38)
Son: Sean William Scott (23)
The classic. I don’t watch Teen Mom—do any of the young ladies get called MILFs?
Mom: Melissa Leo (50)
Son: Mark Wahlberg (39)
Son: Christian Bale (36)
Apparently, they don’t have Child Protective Services in Southie. Fortunately, being an 11-year-old mom did not stop Melissa Leo from winning an Oscar.
Mom: Gretchen Mol (38)
Son: Michael Pitt (29)
The age discrepancy was addressed at some point during the season and was meant to explain the flooziness of her character. It would’ve been far more entertaining if Paz de la Huerta had been the one saddled with a big floppy-haired baby.
Mom: Winona Ryder (38)
Son: Zachary Quinto (32)
Poor Winona, child mom to Spock and now she’s the Old Swan. The only reasonable explanation is that by the 2200s, science turns its focus from boosting the fertility of aging women to impregnating grade schoolers. The future will be even more youth obsessed.
Mom: Kate Winslet (36)
Daughter: Evan Rachel Wood (24)
Yes, this is one of those deals where different actresses play younger and older versions of the daughter while the bigger name actress stays the same. I somehow want to blame this on Melissa Leo who is also in this HBO movie.
Mom: Reese Witherspoon (28)
Son: Richard Pattison (29)
This makes Water For Elephants so much more incesty.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Mom: Lena Heady (35)
Son: Thomas Dekker (21)
Cyborgs, Skynet, time travel…I’m very accepting of sci-fi suspension of disbelief (and am quite possibly the only female who loved this show) but I refuse to go along with Sarah Connor having Judgment Day-preventing seed planted inside her when she was 14. Linda Hamilton was an elderly 28 when she hooked up with John Connor’s dad in the original 1984 film.
Mom: Amy Poehler (33)
Daughter: Rachel McAdams (26)
At least Ana Gasteyer would’ve been a barely legal adult when she birthed Lindsay Lohan.
Mom: Angelina Jolie (29)
Son: Colin Farrell (28)
This conundrum could be the impetus for the best-ever use of Yahoo Answers. Perhaps biology worked differently in the BC era.
Mom: Angelina Jolie (32)
Son: Crispin Glover (43)
Fine, so Grendel isn’t human. I just like the idea of Angelina Jolie giving life to this. Plus, she’s the only two-time example in recent history. (Angela Lansbury also has this honor from last century—mommying both Laurence Harvey and Elvis.)
Photo: coaster from Sophie's, where I once met Henry Thomas and recently had a few drinks by myself on an early Saturday evening, which can sometimes be fun but was not particularly uplifting in this instance.