Open Road Films 1 hour 38 minutes PG-13
Director Gary Marshall loves doing films with holiday themes. He’s done New Years Eve, Valentines Day and now Mother’s Day. The cast is stellar in this one with Jennifer Anniston, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudiekis, Kate Hudson, Margo Martingale, Asif Mondvi and more. But the couplings and uncouplings of the characters is confusing. There are too many current relationship issues packed into multiple story lines.
Jennifer Anniston is kind of the central character. She’s divorced from a spoiled, rich hunk, played by Timothy Olyphant (The Grinders) who is the father of her children. He is newly married to young, scantily clad trophy wife, Tina, played by Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars). There’s plenty of tension over custody and impressing the kids. Nothing new here.
Jason Sudeikis is Bradley, a widower struggling to raise his two daughters. Sudeikis does comedy well (proven with Jennifer Aniston in We’re the Millers as well as on SNL), but also has been developing his serious side acting in films. He’s very good here, but the script could have been better. Some of the situations the characters get into are not well developed, lack texture and are pretty one dimensional.
The hardest to swallow are the unrealistic relationships between Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke as sisters, Jesse and Gabi. They’re estranged from their parents played by Margo Martingale and Robert Pine as Flo and retired Earl who are winding their way towards the girls in an RV. Jesse is married to a doctor of Indian descent of which her parents would not approve, and they have a baby. But Flo and Earl don’t know any of this.
Gabi is a lesbian and has a partner, Max, played by Cameron Esposito. Pretty predictable that the parents show up and mayhem ensues. All the stereotypes are brought out. It’s supposed to be funny, but they’re not so much. And Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show) is wasted in this role. His big comic scene falls flat. He’s got more to share than the silly stuff you see on screen.
Then there’s the comic wannabe, Zack, played by British comic Jack Whitehall, living with his true love, Kristin, played by Britt Robertson (The Longest Ride). He’s found his true love and wants to marry her, but something stands in her way, even though they already have a baby and are committed to each other. There’s a reason, but no spoiler here.
Then we have Julia Roberts as Miranda, a home shopping network icon who has never married. She plays it smarmy, but becomes more human as we get to know her. It’s fun to see Roberts in this role, giving a few of the funniest moments, especially between she and Aniston as a designer who wants to work for the shopping maven. Roberts must’ve had fun doing this film. Even her kids appear in this film. Hector Elizondo, as Lance Wallace, is Miranda’s right hand. Elizondo has been in 18 of Garry Marshall’s movies. You can always count on him to be in there. They’re best friends.
Is this worth your bucks? Unfortunately, we can’t say the rest of the film is that funny. There are too many family relationships and the issues attached in some silly situations. They include fixing up Dad or Mom, Kids of broken homes, under appreciated Moms, adoption curiosity, raising babies, and more. And there’s a lot of blatant product placement, from Cadillac, Sprouts grocery stores, Skype, Skittles and M & Ms.There are several disjointed scenes and a couple, where the dubbing was out of sync. The two mega actresses supposedly got to play against each other in only one scene. And the writing is inconsistent. Hit or miss.
That said, the star power may give this film an audience and be family friendly for Mother’s Day. We expect more fun from Garry Marshall, one of our favorite directors. Maybe next holiday.