A Belated Mother’s Day

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Many days late I made it out to see Gary Marshall’s third installment in his celebrity holiday series, this one being Mother’s Day. Now I’m hesitant to call this a movie. I mean there are definitely lights and cameras and actors placed in front of them repeating dialogue for roughly two hours so on a technicality this is a feature film. But the question I pose is that if it’s so ineptly that does it still count. I ask because Mother’s Day seems to be a collection of scenes that we drift in and out of aimlessly. Any conflict feels inflated as this movie tries to invent problems for a holiday that most people invest maybe a phone call and card in. Both the actors and director are phoning this one in for a big pay check and not even remotely trying to formulate something watchable.

I will attempt to explain the plots as best as possible though I can’t guarantee succinctness as neither could the writers. The main story line is Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) whose ex husband Henry (Timothy Olyphant) has married a younger woman, Tina (Shay Mitchell). She is upset that her sons have taken a liking to their new stepmom and how much the new family unit is bonding. Granted that sucks for her because it’s probably a lonely feeling but her and her ex seem to be on amazing terms and she should be happy that he’s so involved in their sons’ lives. Next sisters Gabi (Sarah Chalke) and Jesse (Kate Hudson) have avoided their parents for presumably at least five years as Gabi is gay and married and Jesse married Russell (Aasif Mandvi), an Indian-American, and they have a son together. Their mother (played by BoJack Horseman’s Margo Martindale) is good ole racist, homophobic woman from the South so she must learn that 2016 America is diverse and you shouldn’t hate your half Indian grandson. Jason Sudeikis is Bradley, a single dad whose wife (portrayed in one scene by Jennifer Garner) has recently past and this is his first Mother’s Day alone with his two daughters. Finally shoehorned in is Home Shopping mogul Miranda Collins (Julia Roberts) who is in Atlanta signing books/selling jewelry/some bullshit and is confronted by her long lost daughter, Kristen (Britt Roberts) who has a troubled relationship of her own because she refuses to marry her long time boyfriend Zach (Jack Whitehall). Sorry to have to ramble all those off especially since they’re all not important. What if I told you there were two children’s party, three stand up comedy routines, a talent show and karaoke all shoved in here possibly at random. There’s a fictional Mother’s Day parade we never even get to! This movie is somehow cramming so much into oh so little.

I can’t get over a major studio release being poorly made. Everything looks so cheap as the film jumps through it’s handful of Atlanta locations. They don’t even try to hide the fact that it was all shot on one street since sister Gabi and Jesse live right next to each other, something no normal person would do. The film is color corrected purple as a futile attempt to make all these close ups more interesting. Marshall must be on autopilot because there is just nothing happening directing wise. He put the camera down and took a lunch. I don’t even think the sound guy was on set as every line is ADRed. A theory might be there was no script because so much of the dialogue added in post is to explain all the nonsense on screen. ADR lines like “It’s a fun party” and “Tom Brady is so hot” really propel our characters forward.

I didn’t want to go in so negative. I’ve seen this film’s predecessors. I was ok with Valentine’s Day (was it because of Topher Grace or Bradley Cooper, I’ll never tell) and New Years Eve is boring but both are cohesive. Mother’s Day doesn’t know how to function or even how to make characters connect. The one thing I was looking forward to was Jason Sudeikis, an actor I find devilishly charming and yet they still ruin that! It’s set up that he and Aniston will end up together as they are the only ones single and have the most painfully awkward meet-cute in a grocery store but there is no chemistry here at all. The movie doesn’t even fake chemistry by having him find her crazy quirks adorable rather when he later sees her having a mental breakdown in her car, he remarks to a grocery store employee “hate to see her in traffic”. I would be fine if they weren’t supposed to be together considering he still seems to be mourning his other dead Jennifer but the movie tropes allude to their intended romance though he is trying to avoid her at every turn.

I feel like there’s so much to rant about but it’s all in vain. You know from the start a paycheck movie like this is going to be bad but it’s amazing when you realize just how bad. I’m a positive person, I love a lot of romantic comedies that people turn their nose up to but this is rightfully disliked. The most redeeming quality was watching this with two inebriated friends who would dart baffling looks at each other when their was an unexpected dick joke or a character shrugs off a kidnapping. I can understand the sentiment about making a heartfelt movie about moms but there’s so many characters and non mother related story lines that in the last twenty minutes that are spent on actual Mother’s Day, I was already checked out. The biggest events that take place on this Mother’s Day are a car chase and a wedding, you know, what we can all get sentimental about. It may be your best bet never to tell your mom this movie exists because it could really ruin the holiday for the both of you.

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