"Hello Atlanta, and happy mother's day."
Holiday movies are becoming a pain aren’t they? Remember when being called a holiday movie meant that while your film was set at a specific time of the year that involves a celebration of some kind it wasn’t a necessity to it. ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ didn’t depend on being set at Thanksgiving (it’s not hard to think of an excuse for Steve Martin to need to get back to his family), ‘The Apartment’ is not purely concerned with New Year’s Eve and the only real benefit of ‘Die Hard’ being set at Christmas is to hear the late, great Alan Rickman’s monotone “Ho, ho, ho”. My point is this, the holidays are not an excuse to make terrible films.
As Mother's Day draws close, a group of seemingly unconnected people come to terms with the relationships they have with their mothers. These include Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), a divorced mother of two boys whose ex-husband has recently remarried a younger woman. Miranda (Julia Roberts) is an accomplished writer who gave up her only child for adoption at birth and is now persuaded by her friend Jesse (Kate Hudson), to go out and find her mother. Meanwhile, Jesse is surprised as her parents come to visit and must come to terms with their failing relationship.
This is the third film in a row from director Gary Marshall that has involved an ensemble cast of seemingly unconnected characters coming together against the backdrop of a holiday of some kind. First we had ‘Valentine’s Day’ which was a sprawling mess of thinly veiled characters and uninteresting stories that existed for the sole purpose of exploiting recognition with the holiday and seeing the cast in question on screen together. Then there was ‘New Year’s Eve’ which was a sprawling mess of thinly veiled characters and uninteresting stories that existed for the sole purpose of exploiting recognition with the holiday and seeing the cast in question on screen together. Now we have ‘Mother’s Day’, can you guess what it is?
A film like ‘Mother’s Day’ could be good if you had interesting, relatable and entertaining characters that you feel empathy for and can be invested within their stories as well as get a few laughs out of them. But every single character within this movie feels like they were lifted from the recycling bin of a terrible sitcom, one where the producers forgot to add a laughing track so after ever…. “joke”….there’s a long silence for where they were expecting you to laugh. Except no one ever laughs, ever.
In fact it’s not just that the characters are not interesting or relatable, they are not even likable. One of the running jokes is that Kate Hudson’s parents are of a different generation and are less than politically correct in some of their remarks. But I would say there is a difference between that kind of gag and just outright racism, I know it’s supposed to be for comedic effect but still some of the dialogue it so awkwardly offensive that you have to wonder if the writers were unloading some deep seated prejudices onto this movie.
For a film that is called ‘Mother’s Day’ there is a surprising lack of any genuine and insightful moments about motherhood. We see mothers helping kids with asthma attacks, unruly vending machines and karaoke related calamities. For the rest of the film they just sort of, do what they’re told, whine about the other people in their lives (specifically men) and mostly just…..I honestly can’t remember, and I don’t really want to.
There are other moments of such ridiculous and contrived schmaltz that it’s sweet enough to be sickening. There’s a scene in which a stand-up comedian is preparing for his routine but when his girlfriend doesn’t show up is forced to take his new born child on stage with him, only to win the contest despite not doing anything that could be described as funny (I’d hate to see the losing contestants). Then there is the obligatory scene in which a father is embarrassed to be buying a personal item for one of his female relatives, in this case it’s a pack for tampons and oh no, he needs a price check. Are you lagging yet? No one else is.
If you love seeing your favourite actors give phoned in performances for sappy storylines that you don’t care about then ‘Mother’s Day’ is the movie for you.