Synopsis: Comedy-drama that follows four different families on Mother’s Day. With horrendous results.
Director: Garry Marshall
Starring: Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Britt Robertson
Genre: Comedy / drama
Release date: June 10, 2016
Running time: 118 mins
If you are unlucky enough to have seen the other two films in Garry Marshall’s holiday-related ensemble comedy series (Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve), then you’ll have reason enough to dread the latest instalment, which cuts back on the star power, but otherwise peddles the same cynically contrived, desperately unfunny shtick as its predecessors – and adds some genuinely offensive stereotypes for good measure.
The list of clichés that passes for a plot centres on four families in Atlanta.
Cheerfully casual offensiveness
Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is reeling from the news that her squinty ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant) has recently married a perky twenty-something (Shay Mitchell).
Widower Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is trying to raise his two young daughters. Sisters Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are trying to keep their partners (an Indian and a lesbian, respectively) secret from their bigoted Texan parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine).
And Home Shopping Network guru Miranda (Julia Roberts) is hiding a secret that involves barmaid Kristin (Britt Robertson), who’s reluctant to marry her stand-up comic boyfriend / baby-father (Jack Whitehall).
One line in particular perfectly encapsulates the film’s cheerfully casual offensiveness.
It occurs during an accidental Skype call, when the mother of Jesse’s Indian husband replies to one of Flo’s bigoted remarks, by saying “I do not get that joke, but it sounds racist…and funny!”
In fact, Flo and Earl’s “comedy” racism is piled on horribly thick (it’s not okay for a film to try and get laughs from the phrase “towel head”), and it also doesn’t help that the film appears to be set in the part of Atlanta that only has one black person in it.
Even by Marshall’s usual mawkishly sentimental standards, the script is utterly atrocious, with the scriptwriters seemingly unaware of how people actually talk to each other in the real world.
As a result, not a second of it rings true and none of the supposedly emotional moments work. It’s also painfully unfunny to watch – the stand-up comedy sequences are especially excruciating and almost make you feel sorry for Jack Whitehall.
There’s no joy in the performances either. Aniston is a proven comic performer, but she’s scuppered by a script that attempts to pass off her deeply unsympathetic behaviour as charming, while Roberts lets her hideous wig do most of the acting and wears an expression that suggests she now considers the debt she owes Marshall for Pretty Woman to be paid in full.
In a word: no. This is comfortably the worst of Marshall’s holiday-themed movies, and that’s really saying something. Avoid like your life depends on it.