Mother’s Day is the third film from director Gary Marshall about a large ensemble celebrating a popular holiday, the first two being Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. However, it feels more like we’ve seen this movie three million times before. That’s probably because He’s Just Not That Into You, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and How to Be Single came out over the past few years too. Like the films listed above, Mother’s Day is bland, bloated, predictable, forgettable, stupid, offensive, and entirely unnecessary. In short, just stay home and watch Love Actually, the romantic comedy that started this trend.
Jennifer Aniston is one of the many moms in this film, which takes place over the week leading up to Mother’s Day. Her character’s name is Sandy, who is horrified to find out her ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant) has married a curvy twenty-something-year-old (Shay Mitchell). Sandy is a good friend of Kate Hudson’s Jesse, who’s married to Aasif Mandvi’s Russell. Sarah Chalke plays Jesse’s sister Gabi, a lesbian who’s married to Cameron Esposito’s Max. The sisters receive a surprise visit from their redneck mom and dad (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine). Since their parents are bigots, though, Jesse never told them that she married an Indian man and Gabi neglected to mention that she’s gay.
If you think the cast is overstuffed already, we’re only getting started. Jason Sudeikis also stars as Bradley, a widowed father of two still coping with the loss of his wife. The likable Britt Robertson is shoehorned in there as Kristin, a young mother afraid to commit to her loving boyfriend (Jack Whitehall). We additionally get several throwaway cameos from Jennifer Garner, Jon Lovitz, Larry Miller, and Penny Marshall as the opening narrator. Oh, and it wouldn’t be a Gary Marshall production without Julia Roberts and good old Hector Elizondo. There’s actually an amusing reference to Pretty Woman in the mix, but that’s one of the few highlights here.
Based on that lengthy synopsis, you can pretty much tell everything that’s wrong with Mother’s Day. There are WAY too many storylines and none of them are given enough time to fully develop. Basically, it’s the romantic comedy equivalent of Batman v Superman. It doesn’t help that Marshall once again settles for sitcom humor and cheap emotional payoffs. The film has nothing new to say about family, relationships, or parenthood. As a matter of fact, the screenplay is so unfocussed that you occasionally forget that the narrative is supposed to even be about Mother’s Day.
As lazy as Marshall’s latest outing is, at least the actors are clearly giving it their all. The underrated Aniston in particular continues to prove that she can be an irresistible charmer even when given unfunny material to work with. If Marshall simply focused on just one major character arc, we might have gotten a fairly solid date movie. Instead, numerous talented individuals are forced to fight for screen time. What we’re ultimately left with is several lousy movies for the price of one.