Mark Reviews Movies

Mother's Day (2016)


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Garry Marshall

Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, Britt Robertson, Julia Roberts, Timothy Olyphant, Jack Whitehall, Shay Mitchell, Margo Martindale, Sarah Clarke, Hector Elizondo, Ella Anderson, Robert Pine, Brandon Spink, Aasif Mandvi, Cameron Esposito, Jon Lovitz

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for language and some suggestive material)

Running Time: 1:58

Release Date: 4/29/16

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Review by Mark Dujsik | April 28, 2016

Yet another ensemble comedy/drama from director Garry Marshall that is based around a holiday, Mother's Day alternates between broadly obvious farce and overly sappy melodrama with lumbering sloppiness. Neither mode here works on its own, and when they're forcefully blended together, the resulting combination is doubly off-putting. It's difficult to determine which is more groan-worthy: the laugh-less jokes, which either can be seen coming from a mile away or don't follow the context of a scene, or the aggressive attempts to yank the audience's heartstrings from their rib cages.

As with the previous entries in Marshall's holiday movies, this one follows a cast of characters whose lives and stories are intertwined by way of convenient connections. There are five main stories within Anya Kochoff Romano, Matt Walker, and Tom Hines' screenplay, and at this point, does it need to be said that none of them works?

In one, Jennifer Aniston plays Sandy, who's amicably divorced from Henry (Timothy Olyphant). He wants to have a talk with her. She suspects he might want to get back together. You can see where this is going, right?

Yes, he has eloped with Tina (Shay Mithcell), who is—you guessed it—younger than him, and that fact—you guessed it—makes Sandy incredibly insecure and jealous. Instead of acting in the way a normal person within the real world would, Sandy takes her vague sense of being jilted for a younger woman to extremes. When Henry suggests that their sons spend part of Mother's Day with the boys' new stepmother, Sandy yells to herself for an excruciating amount of time in her car. In case the overt sexism of the scene (and, let's face it, the entire storyline) weren't enough, her car acts like an amplifier, spreading her cries of outrage across the parking lot. The movie's concept of how the interior of a car works is only slightly less confused than its notion of women.

In another thread, Kate Hudson plays Jesse, who is Sandy's friend (To save some time, just assume that every character mentioned knows and/or eventually meets at least one other character in the movie). Jesse's parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine) are stereotypical Texas rednecks who live in an RV and are prejudiced against, well, you name it.

They especially hated the time when Jesse was dating an Indian man. The following is a prime example of how incompetently staged this movie can be: There's a key revelation that Jesse has married and has had a child with that man (Aasif Mandvi). He and the kid enter the room, and it might have come as a minor surprise, if not for the fact that Marshall has Jesse take a photo of the happy family together off the wall about two minutes before that (to hide the truth from her parents).

Jesse's sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke) is a lesbian and has married her partner Max (Cameron Esposito). You probably have already guessed that mom and dad are going to arrive as a "surprise" and then be shocked when they discover their daughters' secrets. What you might not have guessed is that the movie apologizes for and embraces their bigotry by having Jesse's mother-in-law (Anoush NeVart) laugh at a racist joke.

Here's a quick rundown of the rest. Jason Sudeikis plays a widower with two daughters, and in addition to having to deal with the "icky" girly stuff, he has to decide whether or not to celebrate Mother's Day. Britt Robertson plays a young woman who has been dating Zack (Jack Whitehall) for years, has a baby with him, and has cold feet about marrying him because of abandonment issues from being adopted. Either the screenwriters don't know what abandonment issues are, or they randomly swapped in a different backstory for this character to make it more "dramatic." Julia Roberts shows up, for reasons that won't be a surprise once they're revealed, as a woman selling jewelry on television.

The cast members are doing their best. As such, it's tough not to feel bad for them, and for those who care about such things, that feeling is worth at least half a star on the Irrelevant Rating in Stars system.

Obviously, Mother's Day has been released just in time for the holiday from which it takes its title (as if the cynical manipulation on screen weren't bad enough). The idea of purchasing a ticket for this movie for your mom on that particular day feels akin to only buying a clearance-rack tie for your father on his day—and then proceeding to light it on fire in front of him.

Copyright © 2016 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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