By Leslie C. Halpern
As in director Garry Marshall’s previous films New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, in which interconnecting stories preceding a holiday come together at the end, Mother’s Day offers more of the same. This time it’s a collection of ridiculously attractive mothers of varying ages living in Atlanta, Georgia, who deal with various changes in their maternal roles. Lightweight and predictable for the most part, the stories contain a few funny scenes and memorable moments.
A Lovely Goofball
At the center of the story is Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), lovely to look at and a good mother but overall a goofball, whose handsome ex-husband, Henry (Timothy Olyphant), marries a stunningly beautiful younger woman (Shay Mitchell) devoted to being a loving stepmother. If only the new bride weren’t quite so young and her shorts weren’t quite so short, perhaps Sandy could accept her. But as things stand, she feels more than a little threatened by her new replacement. While part of her recognizes the value in having a loving step parent for her children, a larger part of her resents the younger woman’s seemingly perfect appearance and personality. Although many of the performances here are forced, forgettable, or phoned-in, Aniston’s sincere portrayal is the heart of the film.
A Handsome Widower
Audiences will instantly recognize the perfect match for Sandy: a handsome widower with two daughters to balance out her two boys. Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) and his daughters still grieve over the loss of his pretty wife (Jennifer Garner), a marine who didn’t make it back home. Bradley coincidentally owns the gym where Sandy works out, but her odd behavior, which usually manifests only in his presence, makes him hesitant to woo the lonely divorcee.
Two Beautiful Sisters
There’s also a storyline concerning two beautiful sisters, Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke), who live next door to each other in a nice Atlanta neighborhood, after escaping from their racist folks back home in Texas. A secret from her parents, Jesse is married to an Indian man with whom she has a child. Gabi also keeps secrets: She lives with her same-sex life partner in happily wedded bliss. When their parents show up unexpectedly, secrets and lies become exposed in less-than hilarious ways, such as bigoted comments, a man in a lady’s bathrobe, and a wild ride in a runaway RV. Although the racist behavior is meant to be comical because of their out-of-touch generation, it’s often more disturbing than endearing. It’s easy to see where this subplot is going, once we recognize the true love between the two couples and the unpleasant stereotypes presented by the parents.
A Gorgeous Young Mother
The final story concerns a young couple, Kristin (Britt Robertson), the gorgeous young mother of an infant, and her (naturally handsome) live-in boyfriend and baby daddy, Zack (Jack Whitehall). He’s a wanna-be standup comic working at a bar until he gets his big break. Although Jack has repeatedly asked Kristin to marry him, she refuses because of her identity issues. Given away at birth, she longs to meet her birth mother. This brings us to Julia Roberts, who stars as Miranda, an infomercial host and best-selling author. Cold, aloof, and actually looking less glamorous than usual in an ugly red wig, she chose her career over traditional motherhood. Once again, connecting the dots is fairly simple. Is Miranda really Kristin’s mother? Will Kristin marry Zack before he runs out of patience? Will the couple wed in a fancy church or the bar where Zack works?
If you’ve seen New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day (or nearly any rom-com), you already know the answers. Busy moms may enjoy this film after a nice dinner out and a drink or two, but this latest holiday cinematic ensemble provides merely a superficial feast for the eyes, with slim pickings for the mind.
- This ensemble comedy presents several interwoven stories about mothers during the week before Mother’s Day.
- Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudeikis, Timothy Olyphant, Shay Mitchell, Britt Robertson, Jack Whitehall, Hector Elizondo, Sarah Chalke, Margo Martindale, Aasif Mandvi, Robert Pine, Jennifer Garner
- Director: Garry Marshall
- Genre: Comedy
- Run Time: 118 minutes
- MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for language and some suggestive material)