Garry Marshall needs to be stopped. Yes, he is a legend, one of the true pioneers of television (having written for TV since the 60s and having created classics like Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days and The Odd Couple) and director of iconic movies (Beaches, Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, to name a few). But left untethered, Marshall seems to be looking to destroy as many different holidays as he can. The killing spree began in 2010 with his vapid film Valentine’s Day and got even worse with the painfully awful New Year’s Eve in 2011. Now, after a nice five-year break, Marshall returns to destroy Mother’s Day, with his film, Mother’s Day (opening today)…and destroy it he does. Incredibly, his latest effort (if you can even call it that) is the worst of his three “holiday” movies, a gauge-your-eyes-out, unfunny ensemble “comedy” (used loosely) that even a mother could find ways not to love.
It’s amazing how lazy of an attempt this movie is. Using the same formula as he did in those other two movies, the idea seems to be to throw a bunch of big-name actors on-screen together, with intertwining stories, and re-serve as many tired and lame jokes as one can along the way. Mother’s Day definitely has big names: Jennifer Aniston plays a mother of two boys whose cool dad (Timothy Olyphant) has a new young wife (Shay Mitchell). Kate Hudson appears as a woman with bigoted, racist, road-trippin’ parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine), living a lie with her husband (Aasif Mandvi). Hudson’s on-screen sister (Sarah Chalke) is in a lesbian relationship with her partner (Cameron Esposito), which I’m sure will go over well with mom and dad. And then for some reason, Julia Roberts is in this movie, along with another Pretty Woman vet and Garry Marshall staple, Hector Elizondo, who is so confident that he’s funny, you may even feel a twinge of pity watching his career suicide unfold before our very eyes.
Every character is a paper-thin cliche, every joke a stale turd unearthed from the depths of entertainment hell. To be fair, Marshall can’t be given all the blame…much of it goes to his team of first-time screenwriters (big surprise) led by Tom Hines, whom Marshall worked with as an actor several times in the past. Do you sniff a theme? This seems to be Marshall and all of his buddies getting together to make a movie. I’m sure they think what they’re doing is funny. But there is nothing less funny than a person who laughs at his own jokes, and has no awareness that what they’re doing is making others cringe. How in the world Marshall continues to get these movies greenlit is beyond me – but as we’ve all recently learned by following American politics – there are way more ignorant people in the world than we once thought, and this movie is definitely right in their sweet-spot.
What else is there to say? I could give examples of the tremendously tired jokes you’ll have to sit through, or I could regale you with the emaciated plot. Or I could rage against all of the dumb references Marshall sticks in his own movie, calling back moments from his older, more successful films. But this movie barely deserves a review, or another thought.
If you hate your mother, or yourself, go see Mother’s Day. But I’d rather you didn’t. It may be the only way to stop Garry Marshall at this point. For the love of God, spare us Father’s Day…an idea that he hints at in this film.
Run Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Timothy Olyphant, Julia Roberts, Hector Elizondo, Kate Hudson, Aasif Mandvi, Margo Martindale, Robert Pine, Sarah Chalke, Cameron Esposito
Directed by Garry Marshall (New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, The Princess Diaries, Runaway Bride, Frankie and Johnny, Pretty Woman, Beaches, Overboard)
Opens locally on Friday, April 29, 2016 (check for show times).