‘Mother’s Day’ is closer to a parody than a comedy

Courtesy of Open Road Films
Courtesy of Open Road Films

I walked into “Mother’s Day” expecting a two-hour soap opera, which was a little true, but there were also some unexpected aspects. The refreshing components were the acting and the high level of diverse representation in the film. As is traditional for director Gary Marshall, the film is reminiscent of “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve” through creating a series of interconnected subplots played by A-listers to attract box office attention.

Any merit that the film did earn was in the acting, particularly that of Jennifer Aniston, who plays Sandy, a divorcee on great terms with her ex-husband until he marries a Kardashian-looking 20-something and starts to feel the struggle of having to split her kids’ time with their new stepmother. The impressive cast tried their best to break out of the script-mold, but ultimately weren’t able to do so due to tons of clunky ABC family-esque dialogue.

The movie tries to explore the dynamics of modern families in a light tone fitted for a holiday theatrical release, which was appreciated. However, this was far from being realized due to the ridiculous nature of most of the characters and the excessive amount of actors. Some of the micro-stories within the film feature character such as an interracial married couple, a married lesbian couple, a young couple who have a daughter together but are not yet married, an older redneck couple from Texas who eat chicken wings while they drive their RV and Julia Roberts is thrown in there to wear a hot pink cape with helmet hair and make some blatant “Pretty Woman” references at the end.

Imagine someone tried to fit five different kinds of soup into one can and then expected you to eat it: that’s the kind of effect the film has. We never learn anything about these characters that isn’t superficial or cliche. Thus, we are left with a cast of not characters, but mere caricatures who poorly represent some of the sociopolitical groups in society.

The first 20 minutes are filled with some of the most clunky, blatantly expositional lines of dialogue I’ve ever heard. The screenplay was lazy and insulting, though to the cast’s credit they tried to do the best with it they could. Every line delivered is an infodump of background from the characters with absolutely no concern for subtlety or craft.

The middle portion picks up a little bit, and this is where some of the less circus-like moments come in and we start to feel like maybe it’s an actual story. At about the time when all of the characters have been introduced and the various ways in which they are connected is revealed, the story begins to feel more coherent. The showdown with Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her Indian-American husband, and her sister and her sister’s wife meeting the openly bigoted and racist Texan parents has some genuinely funny moments, but the power is undermined by the one-dimensional, stereotypical writing and dialogue.

Just as it seems the film may begin to recover from the previous hour of cliches, it meanders on and on for another hour and starts to crash and burn horribly starting with the last half-hour which features a gigantic womb parade float in pursuit of a runaway RV that results in a police chase through the suburbs of Atlanta. The ridiculous and hysterical tone of this scene in particular made it feel as if it was actually an unsuccessful parody rather than a film to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Overall, it’s clunky, sentimental, cliche and contrived. Your mother will thank you if you avoid this one on Mother’s Day.

Rating: 1/5 Stars

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