REVIEW — “Mother’s Day”
Garry Marshall’s Mother’s Day provides several funny scenes and solid performances from Jason Sudeikis, Julia Roberts, and Britt Robertson, which makes it a better film than Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. That being said, this film’s script suffers from bland melodrama, clichés and stereotypes, and a bloated runtime.
While Mother’s Day is not a well-made film, it is far more humorous than its predecessors thanks to the efforts of Jason Sudeikis, Julia Roberts, and Britt Robertson. Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses) portrays to the situations the writers place the characters in and Jason Sudeikis portrays Bradley, a widower that is raising two children without moving on from his wife, who is portrayed by Jennifer Garner (13 Going on 30, Juno). It is worth noting that Sudeikis’ character is a caricature, but he provides just enough charisma and strong comedic timing to provide this ensemble film with a breath of fun.
Julia Roberts portrays Miranda, a career-centered, successful salesperson. At first, Roberts provides enough flair to make her a convincing and entertaining salesperson. There is, of course, a twist that changes Miranda’s character drastically, which Roberts is able to pull off convincingly. Her gravitas makes her character’s arc one of the few dramatic aspects that work.
Britt Robertson portrays Kristin, a young woman who has a child and dedicated boyfriend, but never met her biological mother. Considering that Robertson’s character says that she has abandonment issues to her friends, her performance is solid. Robertson provides enough of a screen presence to make her character likeable and humorous. She even manages to help carry a dramatic scene or two.
Mother’s Day is at its best when the screenwriters place the characters in awkward situations. For example, when a prejudiced mother (Margo Martindale) finds out that her daughters have been lying to her for years about relationships, the chaos that ensues is the funniest scene. In spite of the fact that Margo Martindale portrays another controlling mother, her comedic timing is as sharp as ever. Both of these factors helped make this the scene to illicit the most laughs from the screening audience and myself.
Most of this film’s laughs come from Sudeikis’ reactions to other characters. When his character sees a divorced mother throwing a tantrum in her van, he says, “I’d hate to see her in traffic.” As if that were not enough, Sudeikis’ Bradley dances his way off of a balcony in the final act of this film. Because some of the talented cast is skilled at providing effective comedy, Mother’s Day works best as a lighthearted comedy.
Melodrama, Acting, & Directing Issues:
Unfortunately, Garry Marshall’s Mother’s Day dramatic problems as Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Day. As in both of those movies, there are simply too many characters and storylines for all of them to be fully-developed. For example, although Gabi (Sarah Chalke) and Max (Cameron Esposito) portray partners that must deal with a Gabi’s mother, who disapproves of homosexuality, screenwriters Tom Hines, Lily Hollander, Anya Kochoff (Monster-In-Law), and Matthew Walker fail to provide them with any character traits to make them interesting. Instead, audiences get to see Jessie and and Russell deal with the fact that Jessie never told her mother she married an Indian.
Also, Marshall’s direction simply does not work in several key moments. This is evident when Vicky (Ella Anderson) and Rachel (Jessie Cole) cry at their mother’s tombstone. Neither Anderson nor Cole can cry convincingly. To make matters worse, the lighting is too bright and the tone of this scene contrasts too harshly with the lighthearted tone of most of this film. Similarly, Jennifer Aniston portrays Sandy, a divorced woman whose ex-husband marries a much younger woman. Because this is a formulaic, familiar storyline and Aniston gives a so-so performance, the scenes in which she is hurt and jealous do not work dramatically.
Given that Mother’s Day does not work as a drama, its 1-hour and 58-minute runtime is far too lengthy. This film seems to end on several occasions prior to the credits rolling. The primary reason that Mother’s Day does not end sooner is that the screenwriters felt the need to make sure that every character has some redemption or finds someone to love. As always, Marshall’s sentimentality is placed ahead of the storytelling concerns. In this case, it prevents Mother’s Day from being a good film, but those who enjoyed Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve will thoroughly enjoy this.
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Rated: PG-13 for language and suggestive material.
Runtime: 1 hour 58 minutes.