Director Garry Marshall is at it again, taking another ensemble cast and pairing it with another Hallmark Holiday. This time, Mother’s Day approaches and we follow four different, seemingly unconnected families as they prepare for the big day.
Sandy (Jennifer Anniston) is a recently divorced interior decorator, shares custody of her two boys with ex-husband Henry (Timothy Olyphant). All is as well as could be, under the circumstances; until Henry divulges his engagement to the younger, more attractive and generally better in every conceivable way Tina (Shay Mitchell). Upset over the finality of her failed marriage Sandy vents her frustrations to friend Jesse (Kate Hudson). Jesse lives next door to her sister Gabi, who is married to her wife Max (Cameron Esposito). The couple also has an adopted son. Jesse, is also married, but to a doctor of Indian ethnicity Russell (Aasif Mandvi). They also have a child together. Gabi and Jesse share two archaic (read: ignorant) parents who are so stubbornly closed-minded, the siblings hid their relationships from their parents, avoiding confrontation. Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is recently widowed. This will be his first Mother’s Day without his wife and he is still grieving. Now struggling to raise two teenage girls alone, he reluctantly ponders joining the dating scene again.
This will be the third consecutive 2nd-tier holiday movie for Marshall, who has mastered the formula for ensemble romantic comedies. With a principal cast this large, it’s easy to lose characters in the shuffle. Surprisingly, this is one of the things Mother’s Day does well. There are five main stories that move fluidly around each other, like a well choreographed square dance. Unfortunately, any hope for drama or mild conflict are avoided like the plague. The five semi-related stories would’ve been as effective as five independent short stories. While the stories cover relevant, timely topics such as same-sex marriage, divorce and adoption; director Marshall handles each matter with a childlike whimsy; largely avoiding politicizing the film or promoting any agenda, Mother’s Day is the Switzerland of hot button issues.
Overall, the film is better than Valentine’s Day (2010) and New Year’s Eve (2011) and considering what box office successes they were, Mother’s Day should follow suit. There is an audience for these films however, the films all seem too similar now. But I did leave with a burning question. Where does Marshall go from here? Arbor Day or maybe Columbus day, perhaps. As long as his target demographic packs the theater, Marshall at 82 shows no signs of stopping now.
Rated: PG-13 @ 118 mins