First, there’s Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), a divorced mother of two boys, who finds it difficult to maintain the “cool ex-wife” facade when she learns her ex (Timothy Olyphant) has a new 20-year-old wife (Shay Mitchell). Then there’s Sandy’s friend Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke), two grown women who’ve been hiding their “unorthodox” lives from their overbearing (and racist and homophobic) parents (Margot Martindale and Robert Pine). It’s all going according to plan, and Skype, until the ‘rents pay them an unexpected visit for — you guessed it — Mother’s Day. Keep up, now.
Next is Miranda (Julia Roberts), an ultra-successful TV personality and author, whose career-obsessed life is turned upside down when her long-lost daughter tracks her down. That daughter is Kristen (Britt Robertson), whose orphan status has left her with serious abandonment issues, much to the chagrin of her wedding-crazed boyfriend and baby daddy Zack (played by the super cute Jack Whitehall).
Lastly, there’s Bradley (Jason Sudeikis), a widower, who’s struggling to raise his two daughters, one a pre-teen and the other a teen, in the absence of his war veteran wife, who died in the line of duty.
Complicated stuff, right? Mother’s Day has a whole lot going on. With an already full main cast, made even more bloated with one-too-many secondary players, I found my interest quickly targeted to a select few characters. The others — well, they were lost in the ether of my forgotten memories.
One character I do remember fondly is Sandy, a frustrated mother who’s afraid of losing her kids to a younger, hotter, and more “hip” version of herself. This was one of the few story lines that actually felt grounded in reality. And Ms. Aniston was an absolute standout. Unlike most “Jennifer Aniston” flicks, in which she plays the straight woman caught up in zany chaos, she’s just a hot mess caught up in her own neuroses. And I liked it. I liked it a lot because I could sympathize with this woman — it really is difficult to share something (or someone) you love.
Something else I’ll remember are the surprisingly spot-on one-liners, often delivered by the lovely Ms. Hudson (who’s definitely a lot funnier than people give her credit for). Also, let’s talk about Margot Martindale, with whom I’m mildly obsessed, and whose talent almost gets overshadowed by a terribly stereotypical portrayal of white trash. To her credit, she tries her darnedest to elevate the despicable role, and frankly, that’s enough for me. Ladies for the win!
I knew going into this that it wasn’t the next Godfather, or even Godfather Part III, but it certainly wasn’t Dirty Grandpa either. Similar to the more two-dimensional characters I spoke of before, I’m choosing to forget the cheesy dialogue, unnecessary slapstick, and bloated story, and remember the moments of real heart and wit. And if you look in the right places, there are plenty.
I didn’t love Mother’s Day, but because it’s directed by the man who brought Pretty Woman into my life, I’ll settle for a kinda-sorta like instead. Mr. Marshall’s uncanny ability to attract megastar-level talent makes up for most of his films’ shortcomings, this one included. If nothing else, you will walk away from his final flick with a much better appreciation for your own mother. I sure did. ~Shelby Morton
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes and a gag reel.
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