MOTHER’S DAY (0 out of 10) Directed by Garry Marshall; Written by Tom Hines, Lily Hollander, Anya Kochoff, Matthew Walker; Starring Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudeikis, Britt Robertson, Jack Whitehall, Sarah Chalke, Margo Martindale, Timothy Olyphant, Shay Mitchell, Aasif Mandvi, Robert Pine, Cameron Esposito, Hector Elizondo, Jennifer Garner, Jon Lovitz; Rated PG-13 for “language and some suggestive material”; Running time 118 minutes; In wide release April 29, 2016.
Someone needs to ask Garry Marshall to retire.
The venerable director who previously brought us classic movies and tv shows in the 70’s and 80’s hasn’t made a legitimately good film in a decade and a half, and this is the third in a line of unforgivably awful holiday themed movies. They are the worst kind of sentimental tripe.
Not only is this film a waste of its cast’s considerable combined talents, it is racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, and a half dozen other ways bigoted. It searches for jokes by resorting to the worst of all human inclinations: making fun of someone because they’re different. Just like mom taught us.
This is normally the place in the review you get a spoiler-free plot summary. But who gives a flying rat’s ass? All those actors above? They’re all in different situations, and their lives are tenuously connected enough to call this a single narrative. And it’s Mother’s Day in a few days.
Some people are dealing with divorce and remarriage, some people are estranged from their bigoted parents because they married people with dark skin or their same-sex partners. Julia Roberts has a daughter she never met. Meanwhile said daughter is thinking about getting married but can’t until she finds her mom and I’m slowly dying inside just typing this garbage.
What jokes that exist are cheap and far too often made at the expense of people who are not white Christian heterosexuals who have conventional, Hollywood-thin body types. And even the privileged are made fun of, as suddenly all white people are bigots, men are uncomfortable buying tampons, etc.
Perhaps the most offensive thing is how cliched it all is. You expect people to pay $10 a ticket and you give them this? No. We do that outside.
Everyone should be offended by this movie. First because it’s not funny. A lot of offensive movies can be forgiven if they actually make you laugh and think (see “Blazing Saddles,” “South Park,” etc).
Second, you may not notice, but the movie is making fun of you. Yes, you. No matter who you are, this movie has something offensive to say about you.
If you’re a conservative it’s calling you a bigot. And if you’re a liberal it’s making fun of people who are different. The script is not laughing with you, the jokes are laughing at you.
Rather than using racism or bigotry in your jokes to break down stereotypes and laugh at their ridiculousness in the first place, this does nothing more than reinforce the worst prejudices people already have. And again, it’s not funny. At one point, a character retorts to an offensive stereotype of Muslims, misdirected at Indian-Americans, “I don’t understand that joke, but it sounds racist.” Us too. Us too.
And the worst part of it? The cast is so good and charming, they can almost make this bearable. Like if you had very poor taste in comedy and don’t care to rub more than two brain cells together while watching movies (is your favorite tv comedy “Two and a Half Men?”), then you might think this was enjoyable. Every single person who starred in this movie deserves better.
And guess what? Most of them have done other excellent work in the last year. Want to see Julia Roberts in a movie playing a mother? (Well, first of all, “Stepmom” is like a classic tearjerker, but let’s keep it within the last year.) Check out “The Secret in Their Eyes” where she tries to investigate and move past the murder of her daughter– with a huge twist. Go see that. She’s great in it.
Want to see Jason Sudeikis in a rom-com? “Sleeping With Other People.”
Sarah Chalke? Go watch two seasons of “Rick and Morty” where she plays the mom there, too.
The point is, you don’t need to swing a stick very far to find almost anything better than this.
If you love and treasure your mother, or the mother of your children, or whomever you want to honor this Mother’s Day, for the love of all that is holy about motherhood, do not take them anywhere near a theater playing this abysmal film. To keep Garry Marshall from making any more of these movies, we must not pay this film any attention at all. Put it out of your mind and forget it. You’ll thank me for it.
(0 out of 10)