'Mother's Day' Photo: Open Road Films
‘Mother’s Day’ Photo: Open Road Films

By Megan Bianco

By now it should be pretty clear how the Garry Marshall rom-com formula works. And I’m not talking about his classics—good ones like The Flamingo Kid (1984) or Pretty Woman (1990)—but the generic, cornball rom-coms like Valentine’s Day (2010) and New Year’s Eve (2011). Get some of the most recognizable movie stars in Hollywood (most of whom have worked with Marshall before), some saccharine dialogue, cheesy direction, and you have it. Marshall’s new film Mother’s Day is no exception, but it’s somehow even less watchable than its predecessors.

In Atlanta, Georgia, the weekend of Mother’s Day, Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) discovers that her ex-husband Henry (Timothy Olyphant) has married younger woman, Tina (Shay Mitchell). Meanwhile, single father Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is trying the dating scene a year after becoming a widow. Local celebrity Miranda (Julia Roberts) is in town on a book tour, and sisters Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are dreading their parents visiting from out of town.

It’s really not that hard to make a cliché, lighthearted comedy enjoyable, yet Marshall and the cast phone it in completely here. It’s obvious that now, late in his career, the director sees filmmaking more as a job than a craft, and his frequent collaborators are only on board to support their friend with easy work. Besides the lazy writing and editing, Mother’s Day is also filled with stereotypes towards little people, East Indians and Texans. Let’s just be thankful summer blockbuster season starts soon to end the last two weeks of mediocrity.

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