Director: Gary Marshall
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts and Jason Sudeikis
Release Date: June 10th
Is it fair to call this film part of a franchise? Following Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, director Gary Marshall has hit upon a formula that works for him, if nobody else; an ensemble romantic comedy with a somewhat starry cast.
These films are glossy, slapdash, ostensibly nice, and very dull. They’re so shoddily put together and make so little sense that they’re almost sci fi.
Indeed, Mother’s Day seems to take place in a parallel universe, where semi-employed single mothers can afford palatial mansions; where people get excited to see home shopping ads on TV; and where ethnic minorities find racism funny and charming.
The intertwining plots include (among others) the grieving of a widower, played by Jason Sudeikis (portraying some manner of coach for the third time this year, following Race and Angry Birds); the professional and personal struggles of an English comic (Jack Whitehall); and the awkward divorce of Jennifer Aniston and Timothy Olyphant (a man so handsome he can barely open his eyes).
Julia Roberts plays a jewellery entrepreneur and there are some nods to Marshall and Roberts’ most famous film, Pretty Woman. For younger readers, Pretty Woman was a popular romantic comedy about a middle-aged businessman who pays for a week with a young sex worker.
Marshall’s recent films are clearly inspired by Richard Curtis’s Love Actually. One of the best things about Curtis’s film is that – because it was an ensemble – he could include some unhappy endings. It was a powerful device in a sometimes frothy film. That is not the case in Marshall’s films, where you know that everything will work out fine and dandy for the photogenic cast.
Mother’s Day is mostly concerned with cheap sentiment and working through its many plots. Jokes are sparse, and usually ineffective. Though, to be fair, I did laugh out loud at one wildly nonsensical moment; when a child says “wow!” when she sees a piece of plastic and then asks “what is it?” Um, why were you excited if you didn’t know what it was? (A karaoke machine, in case you’re wondering.)
The film is a mere two hours, but it feels much longer, not least because the end credits include a string of bloopers, such as Aniston calling Roberts by her real name. Those credits felt interminable. For all I know they could still be playing now.