Mother’s Day

The only thing that would make former reputable director Gary Marshall (aka the ensemble assembler) and his latest film worse, would be if it cast smaller marquee names. That single element prevents Mother’s Day from being the worst film of 2016. Seeing Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston share the screen together, although even that is bogus and the two actors never met on screen, prohibits entire failure. He used to be known for edgy 90’s romantic comedies like Pretty Woman or The Other Sister, but 81-year-old Marshall has lost all sense of what makes a good film. Instead writers just throw out soap opera type skits, casting directors fill the parts with today’s hottest stars and if you were wearing 3D glasses you could almost see the subliminal messages: “laugh here”, “cry here”, “feel something at this point”.

Mother’s Day is around the corner and Sandy (Aniston) finds her upper middle class, suburban lifestyle crumbling to bits when ex-husband Henry (Olyphant) announces he has married a 25-year-old. Sandy seeks a new job that will take her from luxury minivan to Cadilac Escalade. After some melodrama for missing her scheduled interview, she is rewarded for bad behavior by Miranda (Roberts), HSN’s leading daytime celebrity with a new gig. Sandy’s yoga partner Jesse (Hudson) and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are also in crisis having to explain to conservative parents their lifestyles. Sandy doesn’t have much advice for Jesse’s friend Kristin (Robertson) who refuses to marry her baby daddy, but she does keep bumping into her local gym owner Bradley (Sudeikis) who is a recent widower and a possible future romantic interest.

There isn’t one original joke or sincere moment.

The film opens with a dripping wet, half naked Aniston, showing off her muscles, killer tan, and although running out of the shower to assist her asthmatic younger son, she is in full makeup. Fantasy, that’s what Mother’s Day is selling. Not reality, not characters you can identify with, not women you might see walking through suburban Atlanta where the film is set (and by the way none of the characters have Georgia accents accept for the cameo from two Atlanta Housewives). This is essentially a soap opera depicted as a feature film. The characters are all stunningly beautiful, they all live in Pottery Barn, West Elm or Restoration Hardware homes and none of them have real problems, everyone gets what they want by the end of the film.

Marshall’s other holiday films Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve were bad, but these nearly intolerable ensembles get progressively worse. There isn’t one original joke or sincere moment. Even the scripts lame attempt at a surprise is so obvious when you see which character doesn’t have a child and which character says she is adopted, there is only one “soap opera” conclusion there. Even when Bradley’s eldest daughter asks him to pick up things from the supermarket, we know there is a tampon joke coming before she even says the word. If you want to see a film of the same ilk but with more realistic characters, a smarter script and powerful impact, check out Mother & Child (2009).

Final Thought

Embarrassingly painful to watch, one of the years worst.


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