Do you really need to read a review of “Mother’s Day,” the latest holiday-centric, career killer ensemble film? Don’t we all just expect these movies to be awful since the bar is already set super low? In what’s billed as a supposed ‘celebration of mothers everywhere,’ this stinker of a movie is not even worthy of a rental. In fact, if you take your mom to see this junk it’s more like an insult than a ‘celebration.’
This dud is a poor excuse for a ‘comedy.’ It’s not funny, it’s not heartwarming, it’s not touching, it’s just plain bad. The movie feels like it was made in a by-the-book sitcom factory, churned out on an assembly line for the low IQ set. It’s uninspired, vapid, and has zero reason to exist. This is a stupid movie made to pander to stupid people. Even the storyline setups, all designed to ensure the characters’ lives eventually intersect, are overly clichéd.
Jennifer Aniston and Timothy Olyphant play a friendly divorced couple with two sons (and he with a new twentysomething wife), whose paths cross with gym owner and widower Jason Sudeikis (who has — wait for it– two GIRLS! Wow, I wonder where this story is going?!??).
The always unpleasant Julia Roberts, wearing a harshly styled redhead wig, is a popular Home Shopping Network saleswoman. A big deal is made of the fact that she’s a childless career woman. Jump to another dopey storyline about bar waitress Kristin (Britt Robertson) and her wannabe comedian boyfriend Zack (Jack Whitehall), new parents with a baby girl. Kristin mentions that she was adopted and never knew her birth mother. What’s that you say? Is she planning to track down her birth mom? How did you know?! Bet you can guess who her mom is too!
The storyline that takes the cake centers around Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke), two sisters who moved from Texas to Atlanta to escape their bigoted parents Flo and Earl (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine). Jesse is married to an Indian man (Aasif Mandvi) and has a son while Gabi is gay and a married mom herself. An unexpected visit from their rv-loving mom and dad causes all hell to break loose. Martindale and Pine play the parents with a bizarrely cartoonish, over-the-top delivery style. They talk like simpletons and at times it feels like they are yelling their lines so the 70 year old racist homophobe in the back row of the theater can hear them clearly. Their dialogue is particularly antiquated and pointless; their story borderline offensive.
Loni Love shows up as a wise-cracking African American friend — it’s like you could practically hear the film’s producers worrying that they needed to cast a black character because wait a minute, this story is set in Atlanta! There are a few other cameos from Hector Elizondo, Jennifer Garner and Jon Lovitz (I feel like they deserve to be mentioned so they can be publicly shamed for participating in this crap). No doubt this is a talented cast, but it’s also a cast that gives the impression that they are simply giving up on their careers. Were the actors that hard up for a film role that they agreed to be in this rubbish? It appears so.
The characters repeatedly mention the city of Atlanta for no reason whatsoever, leading me to believe the producers must’ve had an agreement where they got paid whenever Georgia was mentioned in the movie. It started to get funny after the fourth or fifth mention (if you are forced to go to see this movie you can play a game and keep a running count of the mentions)!
Ensemble holiday movies can be mildly amusing (“New Year’s Eve“) or even first-class instant classics (“Love Actually“), but taking on Mother’s Day feels like a desperate money grab of the worst kind. I wasted nearly 2 hours of my life watching this film but at least my sacrifice can do some good in the world. If I can keep just one person from seeing this movie, my work is done. If you love your mom, give her a call, send her a card, take her to lunch. Don’t take her to this movie.
“Mother’s Day” is more fun than watching paint dry, but only slightly. And only because of how unintentionally terrible and ridiculous it is.
Like the holiday-themed movies “New Year’s Eve” and “Valentine’s Day” before it, “Mother’s Day” is another movie that follows a number of different characters in the days and hours leading up to the big day. And like those movies, the stories in “Mother’s Day” eventually intersect with one another in eye-rollingly predictable ways. In choosing a holiday as a framing device for an overlapping narrative revolving around a variety of different characters, all of these films attempt to imitate the success of “Love Actually,” but do so poorly. And “Mother’s Day” is by the worst one yet.
The movie isn’t populated with characters so much as caricatures. The film either looks through rose-colored lenses at a highly idealized version of life, or creates highly contrived conflicts that ring so falsely in our ears. The people populating “Mother’s Day” don’t resemble anyone we know, and consequently there is zero emotional resonance. The plot developments are so obvious that every “surprise” is anything but, and you find yourself waiting for each of your internal predictions about these characters to come true. It’s a paint-by-numbers script that wasn’t so much written as assembled.
In fact, the only thing I really enjoyed about this movie was laughing at it (and not with it). If it wasn’t the beating-you-over-the-head product placement, it was the writing, or the “record scratch” laugh cues for the audience, or the completely inauthentic and unbelievably false reactions background actors and sometimes even the principal cast. It was universally bad.
I do have to say, however, that this movie featured one of the most unintentionally funny secondary characters of any film in recent memory, and this guy single-handedly kept me from walking out. The man who played Earl, the dad of Kate Hudson’s character (Robert Pine) was ridiculously hilarious. To call his performance a caricature is to understate it. If Gabby Hayes, Yosemite Sam, and Foghorn Leghorn had a bastard love child together, he would sound something like Earl. If any one character from any one film ever deserved a supercut of all of his screen time, it’s Earl.