film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mother's Day 2016 * * Stars

Mother's Day
Director: Garry Marshall
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts

I love my mom more than anything else in the world. But come on, do we really a need two-hour movie about May's most popular holiday? Director Garry Marshall sure thinks so. I mean, he has to complete his almighty trilogy of all things festive. With 2010's Valentine's Day, 2011's New Year's Eve, and now Mother's Day (my latest review), Marshall has become the second-tier version of a mawkish Robert Altman. Lately, he has been juggling multiple storylines, huge casts, and lots of defunct coincidences. His films are clearly the equivalent of birthday cake. They are nutrition-free, they are full of sugary sweet moments, they are fluffy, and they are kinda confetti-like. Channeling his weird side at age 81, Garry Marshall has sort of lost touch. He hasn't been as sharp as when he did Pretty Woman and/or Frankie and Johnny (and that was a long time ago). Regardless, his Mother's Day is pretty much harmless if you can get past the sight of a womb parade float, Jason Sudeikis singing "The Humpty Dance" (to a bunch of pre-teen girls), and Jennifer Aniston walking around near some young tykes in nothing but a towel. Would I recommend taking your mother to see "Day"? It wouldn't be a crime but you have been warned.

Taking place in Atlanta, GA (what flick doesn't take place in "Hotlanta" these days) and co-starring Marshall's "lucky charm" of an actor (Hector Elizondo), "Day" feels like a Garry Marshall endeavor literally a couple minutes in. You can easily tell by the first musical score note and the compulsory opening credits. The story follows five to six different people as they iron out their relationship conflicts a couple days before the second Sunday in May. Sandy Newhouse (played by Jennifer Aniston) is a divorced mother of two. She shares custody of her two kids with Henry (Timothy Olyphant). Henry just got remarried to a twentysomething named Tiny (Shay Mitchell). Obviously, Sandy is a little miffed by the condition. Then there's Jesse (Kate Hudson). She is married to a doctor (Russell played by Aasif Mandvi) but is reluctant to introduce him to her parents because they are a bit racially challenged. You also have restaurant worker Kristin (Tomorrowland's Britt Robertson). She has a child and is unmarried. She holds back on tying the knot because she never knew who her real mother was (boo-hoo). Finally, we have Miranda Collins (Julia Roberts). She's a successful writer and I guess, sells stuff on a fictional home shopping network. She has a daughter but gave her up for adoption years ago. I think you can guess how Kristin and Miranda's dots will connect.

Now everyone in Mother's Day seems to conveniently run into each other. Aniston overacts, Sudeikis (as mentioned earlier) is manipulatively closed off, and Larry Miller (a Marshall regular) makes a thankless cameo. It's almost fictitious the way the trouper's paths cross. They are mercilessly connected by a ridiculous amount of kismet. In verity, I felt like I was watching an episode of The O.C. The only difference being that the events were less tidy and much less entertaining.

With haphazard acting (minus the Julia Roberts performance which feels like a slight revelation), a few laughs, and background music deeming Mother's Day to be less than dramatic, Garry Marshall is clearly on holiday here (no pun intended). The adult situations involving the main characters, are resolved quickly and predictably. Added to that, the outtakes at the end are a tired combination of bonus scenes and bloopers. Is Marshall gonna keep making movies about kaleidoscopic, celebration fare? I can't stop him. However, if Independence Day, Columbus Day, Sweetest Day, or Yom Kippur make their plights to the silver screen, I sure won't be buying a ticket. Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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