Fourth grader Alley McBride waits for her mother Mandy on career day at her elementary school. But Mandy is running late from work, not to mention balancing all her different roles as single mother and provider for her young daughter.
But Mandy doesn’t want to let Alley down: she wants to remain her daughter’s hero. So what she and Alley do for their career day presentation both stuns the other parents — and will brings equal parts laughter, disbelief and joy to the audience.
Writer-director Ashley Deckman has crafted a warm comedic gem that captures a wonderfully idiosyncratic, compelling mother/daughter duo. The writing is beat-perfect and often quite funny — just witness some of the other perfectly awkward presentations in the film — and in a short amount of time, deftly creates two fully dimensional characters and a highly specific relationship between them.
Actors Matilda Flemming as Alley and Rebecca Karpovsky as Mandy give outstanding, beautifully natural performances as the mother and child, making it easy to believe that their love for one another is real and genuine, though not without its eccentricities.
Both mother and daughter struggle with the difficulty of their emotions and situations, but it’s clear they have one another’s backs, as well as a deep bond forged through familial love and overcoming adversity together. The narrative and emotional arc of both characters feel well-earned, honest and unvarnished, and watching them advocate and be there for one another is both powerfully affecting and heartwarming.
“Career Day” is a beautifully observed, warmly funny paean to single parents, and all the ways that loving parents try to be there for their kids. Despite limited time, resources and energy — and sometimes the harsh judgment of the outside world — mothers like Mandy and kids like Alley find their way together, creating their family through love, understanding and the occasional bump in the road.