Excruciating multi-narrative dramedy from serial offender Garry Marshall, with Jennifer Aniston
Garry Marshall is a filmmaker who specialises in emotional manipulation of a degree unusual even in Hollywood, his comedies laden with unseemly amounts of cliché, contrivance and exaggeration. His most famous is Pretty Woman, which asked us to buy into a Cinderella take on prostitution. That film was positively nuanced compared to what has come since. For anyone with a modicum of good taste or a healthy cynicism, Mother’s Day will be excruciating.
Set in Atlanta, Georgia, it follows Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve in a sequence of holiday-themed films, which involve multiple storylines connected by strenuous plot manoeuvring. Marshall and his writers present a divorced mother of two boys (Jennifer Aniston), turned inside out when her ex marries a younger woman; the career-centred star of a home shopping network (Julia Roberts), whose casual disavowal of family life hides a painful secret; a widower (Jason Sudeikis) struggling to raise his two daughters; two sisters (Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke), one married to an Indian man, the other in a gay marriage, both scared to reveal their news to their bigoted parents; and a young couple (Britt Robertson and Jack Whitehall) with a toddler, for whom marriage is a thorny subject.
How much these stories have to do with the spirit of Mother’s Day is moot. They are simply resolved on the day in question, with the help of accidents, coincidences and outrageous calls on our suspension of disbelief in the kind of movie in which a bigot can become tolerant overnight, without anyone batting an eyelid. It’s telling that Aniston, a skilled comedienne, gives a hysterical and unsympathetic performance that may even rate as her worst; in fairness, she’s not helped by material devoid of insight, genuine emotion or even laughs. That the film’s UK release is closer to Father’s Day than Mothering Sunday sums it right up.
General release from Fri 10 Jun.