Mother’s Day: Moms deserve better than subpar comedy tribute

Mother’s Day is a holiday celebrated annually to honor women have born, adopted or raised children with an emphasis on the mother-child relationship.

“Mother’s Day” is a newly released movie directed by Garry Marshall that does pretty much none of that.

Marshall’s film is a romantic comedy without any romance and lacking in comedy; it’s a family drama that doesn’t have much heart; and it’s a tearjerker that won’t make many in the audience cry.

Filled with a celebrity cast including Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Kate Hudson, “Mother’s Day” doesn’t pick a direction and stay on a particular course. Instead, Marshall and the four screenwriters given credit for the film attempt to go everywhere at one and end up taking the audience nowhere.

Like its spiritual predecessors “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve,” “Mother’s Day” relies on overly coincidental relationships between its main characters who otherwise don’t interact with each other at all.

Jesse (Hudson) and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are hiding their marriages from overly conservative Texas parents who wouldn’t accept Jesse’s inter-racial relationship nor Gabi’s lesbian life partner.

Writing hurts the cast of “Mother’s Day” the most in this storyline as neither Hudson nor veteran character actress Margo Martindale as the girls’ mother has any space in the script to develop a true character.

Talented though she may be, Martindale gets the worst of this, given an horrendously unfunny racist part to play. It’s near appalling how implausible overcoming years of inheerent racism could be overcome in a single afternoon, yet the film’s writers telegraph this (and every other ending) from a mile away.

Jesse’s friend Sandy (Aniston), who she barely interacts with, is struggling to accept her ex-husband’s new 20-something wife and life of luxury. Aniston gets by with what little she has to work with, though she has rarely been an actress that rises above the level of material given to here.

Britt Robertson’s Kristin – connected to Jesse only through a flimsy “Mommy and Me” class viewers never see – won’t get married to the father of her daughter as she feels abandoned by the mother who gave her up for adoption (Roberts). Roberts received $3 million for four days of shooting on “Mother’s Day” and her in-it-for-the-paycheck performance reflects her obvious disinterest.

It’s unfortunate for Robertson to continue missing out on a quality script as the “Tomorrowland” and “Longest Ride” actress has true potential if ever given the chance to play a well written character on the big screen.

Any one of these storylines could have been made into a decently plausible, though not terribly original film. Yet “Mother’s Day” insists on cramming them all together, irreparably damaging any chance “Mother’s Day” had of actually being any good.

As a director, Marshall does a surprisingly poor job of directing as dialogue scenes often contain characters speaking with their backs to the camera so often it feels as though key lines in the script were re-written after the film was completed. The veteran director misses the mark on covering up these changes, completely ruining any hope viewers may have of forgetting they’re watching actors on a soundstage.

Well intentioned as it may be, Marshall’s “Mother’s Day” fails to properly develop any of its main characters. The film relies on the audience’s predisposition to liking its lead actresses to counter act the fact that the script does not really give viewers much of a reasons to like the characters themselves.

While most of the characters learn a seemingly life changing lesson about tolerance, grief or parenthood, none of these character arcs truly feel earned and are the result of the filmmakers’ desire to wrap “Mother’s Day” up in a tight little bow.

Rather than taking their mother out to a dark theater where families cannot talk to see the film, audiences would be better served having a nice family meal and conversation at home. Next year, “Mother’s Day” might make a decent way to close out the holiday weekend on your couch, but nothing more.

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