Review: 'Mother's Day' Suffers From Underdeveloped Plot

Jacqueline Gualtieri ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Caleb Brown, Jennifer Aniston and Brandon Spink in Mother’s Day. Photo Credit: Open Road Films.
If you are looking for a movie to take your mother to and make you feel like hugging her, I suggest you look elsewhere. Mother’s Day is Garry Marshall’s latest holiday-related flick, following up New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, but this film is easily his worst.
In the same fashion as his previous holiday movies, the film follows the lives of different characters, each in different stages of their lives and relationships. It just happens that all of these people are intertwined in some slight or substantial way. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is dealing with life after her ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant) gets married to a younger woman. Jesse (Kate Hudson) is hiding the marriage of a man her mother does not approve of. Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is trying to take care of two daughters after the death of his wife. Kristin (Britt Robertson), who just became a mom, is looking to reconnect with the mother that put her up for adoption. Seperately, some of these stories may have made for decent plots. Together, each one is weighed down by the forced connections.
Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston in Mother’s Day. Photo Credit: Open Road Films.
Mother’s Day is trying to get away with a confusing and unentertaining plot by being cute and having cheap laughs. The fact that Jesse and Sandy are friends is an easy and sensible connection, but suddenly Kristin seems randomly thrown in the mix. Bradley barely has any connection at all until his chance meeting with Sandy. His plotline is by far one of the most entertaining but his ending is disappointing. Although it would have made for a good film to watch him and his daughters really develop, his screen time is cut short and he is more or less just made out to be Sandy’s new love interest.
Kristin’s story is the most forced, but she sometimes gets a pass, not because of her own character but because of her boyfriend, Zach (Jack Whitehall). The concept of a child looking for her mother seems a bit overdone, but it’s made a little more interesting thanks to the man that wants to be her husband. Zach’s stand up routine had both the on-screen and real audience rolling in the aisles. Off stage, Zach is a lovable character who just wants to be a good dad and be a husband to Kristin. For having such little screen time, Zach is actually pretty well developed. He’s more than a boyfriend; he’s a young, ambitious bartender, hoping to follow his dream and be able to provide for his family doing it.
Sandy’s plot of being the older ex-wife of a man married to a twenty-something is another overdone plot. Of course she’s going to have trouble getting along with the new wife. Of course she’s going to be upset if the kids love the new wife. Sandy was easily the main character in the film and that was an unfortunate mistake. She has a right to be upset, but she comes across as whiney and Aniston seems to make the character far less dignified than she could have been. She could have come across as a strong and competent mother. Instead, her story ends with her doing something great and courageous, then doing something stupid and needing to be saved by a man.
Sarah Chalke and Kate Hudson in Mother’s Day. Photo Credit: Open Road Films.
The only really well developed and interesting plot was Jesse’s, who gets far too little screen time. Jesse has not talked to her mother for several years. Her sister, Gabi (Sarah Chalke), has been hiding the truth about her love life from her mother but she continues to talk to her and encourages Jesse to do the same. When she does, her mother, Flo (Margo Martindale) takes it to mean that Jesse is ready to reconnect and wants to be involved in her life, even if it means making some decisions for Jesse to get her life on track. The last time that Flo and Jesse spoke, Jesse was dating an Indian man, deemed “too dark” by her mother. Flo’s prejudice is palpable throughout the film. It’s uncomfortable and awkward and the film does try to make light of the situation. It does do a good job of making way for an important conversation: with a lifetime of prejudice, what does a mother do when her child makes a life with someone you always thought you hated? This plot deserves to have it’s own film and it’s disappointing that Jesse was not, at the very least, made the main character.
Hopefully, Mother’s Day will be the last of Garry Marshall’s holiday flicks, with too many characters and underdeveloped plots. The worst part of the film is that there were places where a good movie could have been created. There were characters and stories that would have made for something worth watching. Unfortunately, the haphazard, but predictable, way that characters and stories were thrown in ruined the chance for Mother’s Day to redeem itself.
Overall Grade: D
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