Review by Rachel Samdahl (C-)
Mother’s Day has a great cast and a strong director; it’s the perfect example of a film that is less than the sum of its parts.
Featuring the same set up as Garry Marshall’s previous ventures Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day has a lovable cast and multiple plot lines that eventually intertwine and lead to happy endings for everyone. But from the opening scene the dialogue is forced and stilted; and it doesn’t get better. The cast is made up entirely of stock characters we’ve seen in countless other comedies; Miranda (Julia Roberts in a truly unfortunate wig) is the career-focused woman who never had time for a family; Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is the grieving widower who’s now raising his two daughters on his own; Jesse (Kate Hudson) is the beautiful daughter who’s had a falling out with her mom; Gabi (Sarah Chalke) is the “quirky” gay sister; and Sandy (Jennifer Aniston; and to whoever managed to make one of the most beautiful actresses look dowdy, congrats?) is the emotionally unstable divorcee intimidated by her ex-husbands hot new wife. Not to mention the “racist parents,” “clueless ex-husband,” “sassy black girl friend” and “lovable boyfriend who really wants to marry his girlfriend” tropes. There is nothing new or original here.
Predictably, toward the end everyone gets just the pep talk they needed to see things in a whole new light and allow them to resolve all of their issues. Unpredictably, and unnecessarily, they all come from unlikely sources; Sandy’s pep talk is from a party clown for goodness sake. Gabi and Jesse’s parents, who were spouting off racist and homophobic comments just a few minutes prior, have now changed their minds, revised their worldviews and help to reunite their daughter with her husband–an Indian doctor (Aasif Mandvi) who they previously hurled incredibly inappropriate comments toward. Even in movie-land, it’s hard to swallow.
But the main issue is there’s no heart to the film; for a movie about family and the mother-child bond there is a surprising lack of believable emotion. The film goes both for cheap laughs and contrived moments intended to force an emotional response, which only serve to cancel each other out and leave the viewer feeling unsatisfied and wishing for their two hours back. You don’t go into this kind of movie expecting high art, but you do hope for some good laughs, a bit of clever dialogue, and maybe a couple genuine moments of emotion. And Mother’s Day, sadly, just doesn’t deliver.
In the end, Mother’s Day does make you want to call your mom… to tell her to avoid this film.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.