Director Garry Marshall is a menace. He keeps killing holidays with all-star comedies in which a laugh would die of loneliness. First, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve got the Marshall treatment. Now Mother’s Day takes the hit from Marhall’s marauders, out to trick a bunch of poor, movie-loving moms to take a chance on this turkey on their special day.
The focus here is on moms living in Atlanta, Georgia and feeling angsty in the lead up to Mother’s Day. First up is Jennifer Aniston, whose natural comic flair is defeated by her role as a mom having a meltdown because her ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant) is marrying a tween. Not really, but Shay Mitchell of Pretty Little Liars looks jailbaity enough to get the point across.
Kate Hudson has it worse in the stereotype department. She and her sister (Sarah Chalke) are keeping their children secret from their racist, homophobic Texas parents. One sister is married to a doctor from India (Asif Mandvi) and the other is living with – yikes! – a woman (Cameron Esposito). Every bigot joke is trotted out and beaten in the service of laughs that never come.
Jennifer Garner is facing even more dire prospects for Mother’s Day. She’s dead, a soldier killed in Afghanistan, leaving her husband (Jason Sudeikis) to pine away while watching home videos of his wife (Garner pushes perky so far you want to scream) and ignoring the effect of his self-pity on his two impressionable daughters. Are you laughing yet?
You will when you see Julia Roberts. Well, not at Roberts exactly, but at the ugly-ass, page-boy wig she is forced to wear in every scene and that makes her look like a female impersonator. Is Roberts repaying Marshall for the star-making role he gave her in Pretty Woman? If so, he’s asked too much. Roberts is playing a home-shopping guru who has chosen career over motherhood. Or has she? Is there a secret in her past? Is there a cliché in this script that Marshall hasn’t unearthed? I’d say find out for yourself. But I wouldn’t be that mean to anyone on Mother’s Day. Note to Marshall: Keep your mitts off Father’s Day.