Movie Review: MOTHER’S DAY (2016). Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts

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mothersdayMOTHER’S DAY (USA 2016) **

Directed by Garry Marshall

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Timothy Olyphant, Shay Mitchell, Jason Sudeikis

Review by Gilbert Seah

Director Garry Marshall has created his niche in directing saccharine sweet films for the not so demanding moviegoer. His NEW YEAR’S EVE, VALENTINE’ DAY and PRETTY WOMAN say it all. The 81 year-old has been at it since 1982 when I saw his first film YOUNG DOCTORS IN LOVE. He also is the creator of the iconic TV series, “Happy Days”, “Laverne & Shirley”, and “Mork & Mindy”.

So do not expect much from his latest family comedy MOTHER’S DAY. The plot involves 3 interconnecting stories with mothers. They are loosely connected. For example, a friend of one gives advice to another who is in a different story. So, the film could consists of 3 unconnected stories for all that matters.

The first mother is Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) who has two sons. Her recently divorced husband, Henry (Timothy Olyphant) is marrying young Tina (Shay Mitchell). To Sandy’s dismay, everything is going on too well with her ex. The second mother is high profile TV star, Miranda (Julia Roberts) who has given up her daughter, Kristin (Britt Robertson) for her career. Kristen seeks to find her mother while not being able to commit to marrying her Irish boyfriend. And there is Jesse (Kate Hudson), a mother who married an east-Indian against her parents wishes. All these stories are quite easy to follow on screen, despite it sounding confusing on paper. It is hard to determine which is the best story. But one can tell that there is healthy competition among the stars to do their part the best. Aniston tries very hard at being funny. Roberts smiles a bit too much looking artificially false.

All these shenanigans are mildly funny. An example are the stand up comic routines during the comedy contest at Burn’s (Jon Lovitz) club. Those routines including the $5000 prize winner are just ok funny at best. The other shenanigans also invoke a tear or two as niceness is pulled out of these stories, which director Marshall is so good at. There are a few genuine funny moments like the runaway trailer with the laptop screen having the image of the East Indian mother as it topples of the table when she says” “Where is everyone gone?”

Marshall has assembled quite the all-star cast. Marshall has got most of the big names, like Julia Roberts, who has worked with him before. Also noticeable is his use of minority groups to play bit parts (like the down-syndrome girl at the film’s start). But then, his film goes in the opposite direction with some very racist East-Indian jokes later on in the film. He also stereotypes East Indians having the mother, for example, always appearing wearing a full sari and always having all Indians speaking with a strong accent.

Midway during the film, the hit song “Photograph” by Ben Shereen is performed, only emphasizing Marshall’s desperation to get his film liked.

Otherwise, MOTHER’S DAY is just the typical Garry Marshall film: mildly entertaining at best and irritatingly full of sentimentality and niceness. As the saying goes, every Marshall story (he cowrite this film) has a happy ending.

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