Director: Garry Marshall
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudeikis, Britt Robertson, Timothy Olyphant, Jon Lovitz, Brandon Spink, Sarah Chalke, Shay Mitchell
Runtime: 1 hr 58 mins
Rating: M18 (Some Homosexual Content)
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: http://www.seemothersday.com/home
Opening Day: 5 May 2016
Synopsis: Jennifer Aniston (We’re the Millers, “Friends”), Kate Hudson (Raising Helen, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman), Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses, We’re the Millers) and Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland, The Longest Ride) star in interwoven stories about a group of women with one important thing in common- mothers. Expectant moms, single moms, stepmoms, gay moms, estranged moms, long-lost moms and mothers of all kinds get their due in an emotional tribute to the tie that can’t be broken. In the week before the one day of the year when Mom comes first, the lives of a group of strong, loving and wildly imperfect women, from a divorced mother dealing with her kids’ new stepmom to a young mom trying find her own birth mother, provide an emotional and humorous reminder that every mom is her own kind of hero. As Mother’s Day approaches, each of them is about to prove the power of the maternal bond in sweet, smart, sassy and sexy celebration of mothers everywhere.
Trust Garry Marshall to make a formula out of gathering a bunch of recognisable faces and casting them as loosely connected characters that happen to be going through big life events just before a major holiday event. Valentine’s Day was the first of these back in 2010, followed the next year by New Year’s Eve, and Marshall has here reunited the writers of these two earlier films for yet another feel-good dramedy centred on the titular holiday celebrating motherhood. It also means that ‘Mother’s Day’ is both fortunately and unfortunately cut from the same cloth as its predecessors, which depending on how much you love these earlier candy-coated trifles, ultimately decides if you will like this similarly inconsequential piece of filmmaking.
To Marshall’s benefit, the narrative here is much more streamlined, focusing instead on four key characters and a couple more minor ones who happen to be related to these four. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is a single mother of two whose ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant) is about to marry a twenty-something (Shay Mitchell). Her best friend Jesse (Kate Hudson) is happily married with a kid to Russell (Aasif Mandvi), but because her parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine) happen to be racist, she hasn’t introduced her Indian husband to them, nor for that matter told them that she is already a mother. Ditto her lesbian sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke), who tells them that she has a fiancé named Steve when she is really married to a woman named Max.
During the course of a leisurely two hours, Sandy will meet Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) aka Mister Mom at the supermarket struggling to buy tampons for his teenage daughter. Unlike Sandy, the former Marine lost his wife (Jennifer Garner in a brief cameo) in combat and is coping with grief while trying to be strong for his two girls. Sandy will also audition with successful home shopping network mogul and best-selling author Miranda (Julia Roberts), who as a teenager gave her only daughter up for adoption. It is no secret that her daughter is none other than Kristin (Britt Robertson), a young mother whose abandonment issues has made her a commitment-phobe that is reluctant to enter into marriage with Zack (Jack Whitehall), the British bartender and father of her infant.
That these cookie-cutter characters stay engaging is credit to each and every one of the cast, whose energy and chemistry make their roles more interesting than they really are. Aniston and Hudson are pros at such light-hearted dramedies, so too is Sudeikis of ‘We’re the Millers’ and ‘Horrible Bosses’. Robertson can’t quite match her co-stars’ shine, but her partner Whitehall is an unexpected delight as a comic who gets one of the film’s funniest scenes taking the stage at a comedy club while holding his baby daughter in his arms. Roberts is no more than a glorified supporting act (a Marshall regular since her breakout hit ‘Pretty Woman’), but displays her movie-star quality in the few scenes she shares with Aniston, Robertson and Hector Elizondo (another Marshall regular playing her confidante).
Like in ‘Valentine’s Day’ and ‘New Year’s Eve’, there will be at least one meet-cute, a wedding, a medical emergency and reconciliations all around. Marshall is a seasoned director of such mush, and arguably he handles the proceedings with enough nuance so that they do not end up being overly melodramatic. One wishes though that Marshall had given the same finesse with the humour in the film, especially at the end when we are supposed to laugh at Sudeikis falling off a balcony or a runaway RV (which Jesse and Gabi’s parents drive all the way from Texas to Atlanta in order to surprise them) with faulty brakes. Not that the rest of the film itself is that amusing – Marshall, who majored in television comedy, often settles for sitcom fodder that only occasionally inspire a chuckle or two.
And yet by the same measure, Marshall is a veteran at such inoffensive confection, which pretty sums up ‘Mother’s Day’ and his earlier two holiday-based rom-coms. Motherhood is of course the theme here, but lessons of letting go, forgiveness and unconditional love are perennial Marshall favourites, packaged with a certain banality that nonetheless makes it easy to wash down. So even if the Atlanta that he paints onscreen is clearly artificial, you probably won’t mind spending the time in his Hallmark-card version of suburbia, least of all with a group of good-looking people who seem genuinely nice, friendly and pleasant.
(As artificial and lightweight as 'Valentine's Day' and 'New Year's Eve', this latest holiday-themed ensemble comedy from Garry Marshall is nonetheless pleasing and inoffensive)
Review by Gabriel Chong