Mother's Day (2016) Review: Sorry, Moms.
I can’t fault a movie like ‘Mother’s Day’ for existing. It’s a two hour greeting card put to film that stuffs all the faces that mothers like seeing. Julia Roberts. Jennifer Aniston. All it’s missing is a Sally Field or a Sandra Bullock and it would literally have everyone’s mom’s favourite actress. So why wouldn’t you make it? It makes perfect sense. What doesn’t make sense is that it would be this bad.
Okay that’s a lie. That makes sense. The reason that makes sense is that it’s from director Garry Marshall, who’s last two movies were ‘Valentine’s Day’ and ‘New Year’s Eve’. Films that follow the same basic concept of ‘Mother’s Day’. Take a holiday, think of as many different situations you can think of that sort of apply to that holiday, and smush em all together ‘Love Actually’ style. The difference being that while ‘Love Actually’ organically wove its multiple story-lines into a compelling narrative with engaging dialogue, these films just kinda don’t.
Truly, the first act of the film seems to be ongoing, as if I’ve not yet left the theatre. I still feel like I’m being introduced to more and more characters, with so many story lines that you start to get the equivalent of cinematic whiplash.
The different conflicts by themselves might make for their own mediocre, yet sweet films about a certain type of family dynamic. The problem is there’s so little time devoted to each one that as they’re being set up, you can see the resolution coming a mile away. It doesn’t help that every situation is one that’s been seen a million times before. Whether it’s the bigoted monster in law who is hidden from the modern family of her offspring, or the struggling widower going through the oh so painful ordeal of being caught buying tampons for his teenage daughter.
The most baffling thing about ‘Mother’s Day’ is the strange leaps in logic it takes to resolve its many conflicts. For instance, in the middle of one character’s stand up routine, he stops doing his set to have a tender moment about how he’s so in love with his girlfriend. I haven’t been to many stand-up shows but I’d reckon the reaction from the audience in real life would be “Who gives a damn, say something funny”. The same goes for a scene involving a proposal on another character’s home shopping show. Why in the hell would the audience care, when the only reason they’re tuning in is to buy cheap jewelry and dining sets?!
Mother’s Day has a lot going wrong, but it’s not without its moments. There are a few scenes peppered in where the script actually manages to evoke emotion from the audience. The movie tries to have more than just a few though, but too often does it attempt for an “aww” and instead gets an “ugh”, simply because the moment feels unearned. Not to mention it’s poorly performed. Everyone’s just sort of doing whatever, phoning it in. I mean there’s so little character to care about here.
I know I said the thing about illogical moments of resolution was the most baffling thing in the movie, but the most baffling thing in this movie is actually its casual racism. One of the mothers in the film is a bigot whose daughter is married to an Indian man so of course, the script has moments that show just how bigoted she is. The problem lies in the overt stereotyping from the rest of the cast. To put it simply, there’s a scene where said Indian character is the only one out of his entire family, who are all white, to be told to get down on the ground by the police, following a chase scene. The cops reach for their guns as soon as they see his face, aiming it at him when he’s on the ground. When did that imagery become a punchline?
Mother’s Day is actually not as bad as I expected it to be. The main problem is that the movie has a completely unnecessary two hour run time. If the film had a half an hour shaved off of it, cut out 8 of the 12 story lines, and maybe had some punch up dialogue here and there, it might actually be a film worth seeing. As it stands, it’s not so bad that it makes me angry. Mostly I rolled my eyes, and there is entertainment value in watching it just how lazily cliched it can get. That said, it’s not a movie for me. If it’s mother’s day and you’re sitting around thinking of something to do, I wouldn’t think it a sin for you to Catch It On Cable.
Rating: Catch it On Cable