Mother's Day

 

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Garry Marshall follows up Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve with another all-star comedy centred on an American public holiday.

 

Mother's Day

Marshall's maternity: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Britt Robertson
 

Two weeks before the release of Independence Day: Resurgence, we get Mother’s Day (over a month late). Still, British moms celebrated Mothering Sunday way back in March, so it really doesn’t matter. We’ve also had Labor Day, a couple of Halloweens (and the countless sequels) and innumerable Friday the 13ths. More significantly, the 81-year-old director Garry Marshall brought us the all-star, universally panned Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. His Mother’s Day got equally withering reviews in the States and it’s easy to see why. It’s grossly sentimental, predictable and formulaic and features incredibly attractive, very wealthy people coping with largely pedestrian problems. It ain’t Son of Saul. But it’s also often quite accomplished, frequently very funny and relentlessly enjoyable. Just what its target audience could hope for.

 

The formulaic bit produces a huge range of motherhood: we have a divorced mother, an unmarried mother, an expectant mother, an absentee mother, a lonely mother, an estranged mother, a lesbian mother, a dead mother, a mother from hell and even a mother in denial: the whole rainbow of maternity. And Marshall, with his track record of Beaches and Pretty Woman, has attracted a highly engaging cast of reliable comic talent. Thus, there are plenty of laughs to go round. Much of it misses the mark, but the throwaway humour constantly catches one off guard. Héctor Elizondo, who has appeared in every film that Marshall has directed, is on top form, playing the wise and cynical agent of Julia Roberts’ shopping guru, and he doesn’t waste a second. Jack Whitehall, as the token Brit, is very funny, too, and surprisingly affecting, as an aspiring stand-up comic whose American girlfriend (Britt Robertson) refuses to marry him.

 

One can pretty much guess every plot arc hours in advance, but it’s fun watching it all fall into place. And, dare one say, there are enough variations on the role of parenthood that some of it is bound to catch the throat. Roll on Thanksgiving.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudeikis, Timothy Olyphant, Britt Robertson, Shay Mitchell, Jack Whitehall, Sarah Chalke, Héctor Elizondo, Cameron Esposito, Margo Martindale, Robert Pine, Aasif Mandvi, Anoush NeVart, Jon Lovitz, Larry Miller, Jennifer Garner, Penny Marshall (voice only).

 

Dir Garry Marshall, Pro Brandt Andersen, Howard Burd, Daniel Diamond, Mark DiSalle, Mike Karz and Wayne Allan Rice, Screenplay Tom Hines, Anya Kochoff Romano and Matt Walker, Ph Charles Minsky, Pro Des Missy Stewart, Ed Robert Malina, Music John Debney, Costumes Marilyn Vance and Beverley Woods.

 

Capacity Pictures/Gulfstream Pictures/PalmStar Media-Lionsgate.

117 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 10 June 2016. Cert. 12A.