Review: Mother's Day
PLOT: The adventures of a bunch of well off women and men, all of whom are dealing with family during the week leading up to Mother’s Day.
REVIEW: Watching the new Garry Marshall film is akin to going to watch an actor friend in a scene study showcase. You have a bunch of thespians on-stage doing random scenes that sometimes go together, and oftentimes don’t. At least the showcase is probably a little less painful than the slow and unfunny new comedy MOTHER’S DAY. Much like the previous NEW YEAR’S DAY and VALENTINE’S DAY, this comedy drama has very little substance, and a ton of forced sentimentality. The problem is the characters are so poorly conceived, that there is very little here to connect to. It’s a big-screen, star-studded Hallmark movie that fails to deliver laughs or honest emotion. It’s as fake and plastic as the Julia Roberts character selling crappy mood jewelry on the Home Shopping Network.
The plot is basic and loaded with characters that are somehow connected. Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are sisters who have issues with their stereotypical racist mom and dad Flo (Margo Martindale) and Earl (Robert Pine). Both are hiding their real partners from their "flag waving" parents, which include Gabi’s wife Max (Cameron Esposito) and Jesse’s husband Russell (Aasif Mandvi). And then there is Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), a designer who is happily divorced from Henry (Timothy Olyphant). The two have lived a friendly existence for their kids sake. But what happens when he marries a young woman named Tina (Shay Mitchell)? Who cares? And then you have the only semi-appealing couple in the film. Zack (Jack Whitehall) wants to marry the mother of his child, Kristin (Britt Robertson), but she is afraid to commit. The young woman was put up for adoption as a child and she is looking to meet her long lost mother. All that and I didn’t even mention Julia Roberts as some famous woman selling ugly jewelry, and Jason Sudeikis as a widower trying to move on.
It’s frustrating to watch a modern romantic comedy and find so many outdated ideas. You have the career woman who had to give up on raising children and you have the super conservative parents that perhaps learn a lesson in love. And not a single moment feels genuine. The script conveniently solves problems without any real struggle or heart. This is by-the-numbers progression that is as generic and dated as you can get. If this had been released several years ago perhaps it would have felt slightly relevant, but by today’s standards it’s far from it. Most of the sequences are uninspired, and even worse, boring. One in particular near the end involving Earl trying to fix his daughter’s strained relationship is so dismal, that it’s almost offensive. You sort of wish the lot of them had been arrested and disappear so the audience could be given some relief. And yes, it literally involves endangering a ton of people’s lives… If this were real life there would be jail time and lawsuits.
What is truly frustrating is that there's a ton of talent on-screen. Both Whitehall and Robertson are very sweet together, and had the movie focused on their situation it might have been a bit more interesting. As far as the bigger names, it was Aniston who comes out on top. She isn’t doing anything new, but she's certainly a pro at handling this sort of material. Also fairing quite well is Sudeikis who is becoming quite the leading man. The actor is ably good at both comedy and the more heartbreaking, dramatic moments. In fact, he and his family share one of the few honest to goodness heartbreaking moments in the film. As far as Roberts is concerned, she seems to be just playing an exaggerated version of herself with bad hair. She certainly still has charm, but this particular character is a vacuous example of a modern career woman. Ah look, the career woman doesn’t know how to hold a baby… Hilarious!
MOTHER’S DAY is the worst kind of romantic comedy. It’s soulless, uninspired and void of any real laughs. Trying desperately to capitalize on the charm and personality of it’s cast, it fails to bring any real conflict in a sitcom ready script. There is a spark or two thanks to the talent involved, but nothing that completely makes up for the dismal screenplay. You do have to give credit to Marshall, who at eighty-one years of age can still make something sort of pretty. However, after a few minutes you tire of the insultingly bland problems the characters have. Perhaps this will speak to those looking for dumb, escapist entertainment, but there are so many other films that achieve this without being so dim. This Mother’s Day, when you take your mom out for the weekend, you might want to convince her to wait for this to hit cable and take her out to dinner instead.