JEANNE'S REVIEW

 

First, I have to admit that I am SHOCKED that David likes this film. Usually, he has better judgment --- usually --- but giving this wretched, convoluted script a pass from him is mind-boggling.

 

Directed by Garry Marshall, who gave us the equally abominable "Valentine's Day" and "New Year's Eve", "Mother's Day" is another in a trend to honor specific holidays. If he comes out with one for Father's Day or Grandparents Day, David can review it on his own.

 

"Mother's Day" has assembled an impressive cast featuring Jennifer Aniston as Sandy, a divorced mother with two sons. Her ex, Henry (Timothy Olyphant), has re-married a much younger woman, Tina (Shay Mitchell), who is trying very hard to be a cool step mom. Sandy's good friend, Jesse (Kate Hudson), is married to Russell (Aasif Mandvi), an Indian doctor, and they have a darling little boy.

 

Jesse's sister, Gabi (Sarah Chalke), is married to a woman who also has a son. Jesse and Sarah's parents, Flo (Margo Martindale) and Earl (Robert Pine), are conservative Texans who have no idea that their daughters are even married, until they come to Atlanta for a surprise visit. Are you following all of this?

 

But that's not all --- we are also introduced to Bradley (Jason Sudeikis), a widower with two daughters, Rachel (Jessi Case) and Vicky (Ella Anderson), and Kristin (Britt Robertson) and Zack (Jack Whitehall), a young unmarried couple with a one-year-old daughter. And last, but certainly not least, Marshall has reunited Julia Roberts, starring in her fourth Marshall-helmed film, and Hector Elizondo, who has been in every one of Marshall's 18 productions.

 

Roberts plays Miranda (in a HORRIBLE red wig), a career-oriented home shopping network impresario, with Elizondo as her devoted agent, Lance Wallace. To write that Roberts is downright awful is an understatement. Her only decent scene appears in the outtakes during the credits. But the writers do manage to include a tiny homage to "Pretty Woman" when Lance teases Miranda about her salad fork. Sheesh ---

 

The screenplay by Anya Kochoff Romano, Matthew Walker and Tom Hines is trite, predictable and most egregiously --- not funny! I realize I can sound like a broken record, but if the writing is horrible, it doesn't matter who is starring in the film. And with way too much going on, this movie at two hours feels a lot more like three.

 

I must admit, though, Aniston does her best. She tries very hard to work the script and manages to succeed in a few scenes, primarily with Sudeikis. Sandy meets Bradley in the grocery store, where he is purchasing tampons, and can't seem to shut up. Then she has a complete meltdown in her minivan in the parking lot, while he watches in horror, which is about as realistic as this writing gets.

 

David loves the scene where she gets her hand stuck in a candy vending machine, and Bradley comes to her rescue. But I found it cheesy and absurd.

 

Despite what I think --- and I think David is all wet when it comes to his opinion --- "Mother's Day" will unfortunately be a hit at the box office. Some moviegoers like this silly stuff, but, for the rest of you --- beware --- "Mother's Day" is a movie you won't want to see with your mother!

 

Opinion: Wait for DVD

 

DAVID'S REVIEW

 

It looks like I am clearly in the minority on this film, so I'm ready to take the heat, most of it emanating from my illustrious partner. I liked "Mother's Day" for a variety of reasons, which could be explained by the decidedly lowered expectations I had going in (please see my review of "Keanu").

 

But I will not use that excuse as a plea bargain. After all, director Garry Marshall has some gems on his resume, not the least of which is "Pretty Woman". The 81-year-old filmmaker also has his share of duds, so where would "Mother's Day" fall in the Marshall spectrum? As it turns out, pretty high.

 

A good cast obviously doesn't ensure a good movie. But with the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudeikis, Jon Lovitz, Jennifer Garner (in a cameo), and yes, I'll even give kudos to Kate Hudson, whom I normally don't care for as an actress, "Mother's Day" at least had a fighting chance. Add veteran character actors Robert Pine and Margo Martindale, plus the always entertaining Aasif Mandvi, to the roster --- well, now it's squarely up to the writers.

 

One of Jeanne's big objections to this movie is the number of sub-plots happening simultaneously. As if borrowing from a Robert Altman script, a quartet of writers have, indeed, created a variety of situations. But to the filmmakers' credit, with a nod to the nifty editing, they never linger on any of the subplots too long. As a result, the nearly two-hour movie zips along rather nicely. Besides, there are only four major storylines to keep track of, and they are never convoluted.

 

"Mother's Day" also doesn't go for the cheap laughs right out of the gate. Instead, we are given the opportunity to get to know the characters, so that when funny predicaments do arise, we have a brief history of their lives, and we can laugh with them instead of grumping about the stupidity of the writing. When Sandy (Aniston), "with two sons" --- a running gag --- gets her hand stuck in a hospital vending machine, Bradley (Sudeikis) -- on crutches after a fall --- mutters under his breath to his two daughters to keep walking. He does not want to get involved because he realizes she's the divorcee he met earlier in a supermarket, but helps to free her anyway. A small moment, for sure, but it neatly ties up the inevitable bond they gradually had been building throughout the film.

 

The kids in the film are terrific, never overacting, even at their mom's grave site. In fact, none of the cast is guilty of emoting, even Hudson who is convincingly reserved for a change. When Earl (Pine) and Flo (Martindale) drop in on their daughters, Jesse (Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) unexpectedly, they are stunned to find out one is married to an Indian doctor, and the other is gay. The revelations are handled naturally, and with humor. But family is family, so the ensuing acceptance by the parents, although predictable, is poignant without being sappy.

 

The same can be said of a young unmarried couple with a baby, Kristen (Britt Robertson) and Zack (British comic Jack Whitehall). He wants to marry her, but she is conflicted because she has never met her birth mother. When she finally confronts her real mom, it is not what she expected. Their later reconciliation, although also predictable, is emotional and credible.

 

As for Julia Roberts, I liked her understated performance as the jewelry guru. When a secret relationship is revealed, Roberts as Miranda handles it beautifully. And her red wig is appealing.

 

Bottom line, "Mother's Day" is a surprise for me. Without resorting to bathroom humor, forced laughs or inane situations --- except for maybe Earl driving his RV recklessly to make a point --- the film resonated with me on a variety of levels. Aniston doesn't get enough credit for the talented comedienne she is, and Sudeikis is one of the funniest actors working today.

 

Opinion: See It Now!