Mother’s Day (2016)

Mother’s Day
Director: Garry Marshall
Writer: Anya Kochoff, Matthew Walker, Tom Hines
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Timothy Olyphant, Shay MitchellJason Sudeikis, Julia RobertsHector Elizondo, Kate Hudson, Margo Martindale, Aasif Mandvi, Robert Pine, Sarah Chalke, Cameron Esposito, Jennifer Garner, Britt Robertson, Jack Whitehall, Jon Lovitz, Penny Marshall
Seen on: 16.8.2016

Plot:
Mothers come in many shapes and forms. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is really good at being divorced from Henry (Timothy Olyphant): they get along better now than they ever did before. That is, until Henry tells her that he has a new girlfriend (Shay Mitchell) who is much younger. Meanwhile, sisters Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are both happy in their respective partnerships and with the distance that lies between them and their parents (Margo Martindale, Robert Pine) – who don’t know that Jesse’s partner (Aasif Mandvi) is of Indian descent and that Gabi’s partner (Cameron Esposito) is a woman. Miranda (Julia Roberts) on the other hand opted out of being a mother and rather focused on her career, while Kristin (Britt Robertson) and Zack (Jack Whitehall) just had a baby, despite being rather young and poor. And Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) has to face the first Mother’s Day with his daughters since his wife passed away.

Mother’s Day was shown in the sneak preview I attended, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered watching it. But I have to admit that it was a rather enjoyable film – even if far from flawless.

mothersday

Mother’s Day tries to give a comprehensive picture of how many different ways there are to be a mother. That is, basically, how many different ways there are, if you’re a middle-class, white couple or at least started out as one. There are practically no people of color in the film – with Aasif Mandvi’s role where it’s an explicit plot point, he’s barely allowed to be there, instead he’s mostly talked about. There is nothing that deviates too much from your “normal”, heteronormative family (at least they managed to include a lesbian couple, although they, too, have to live as a pretty conservative family to be allowed to be there). And Kristin and Zack may not be as rich as the rest of the suburban families portrayed, but at least they do well enough that Zack can follow his dream to be a stand-up. Plus, every woman really loves being a mother in this film and there is definitely not one who would rather not have children (even if they may pretend so at first).

In short, Mother’s Day is a film that believes its much more representative than it actually is, centering a white, (upper-)middle class perspective that is usually what goes for “normal” in movies. This is a core fault with it, at least to me, that no amount of nice filmmaking can outweigh.

That being said, some very nice filmmaking went into the film and if you’re able to overlook that flaw, you can have a really good time with the film. The cast sparkles and shines, especially Julia Roberts (they also take advantage of the fact that Roberts and Elizondo are both back in a Marshall movie and stuff it with Pretty Woman references, which made me smile).

Of course, everything pretty much ends as you think it ends. There’s practically no beat in the story that can’t be foreseen by an at least slightly genre-savvy audience. But the utterly predictable way to an utterly predictable end is made enjoyable by cast, soundtrack and the nice pacing. Nothing here is revolutionary. But it is pleasant.

Summarizing: Let’s be honest, you know exactly what you’ll get when you watch Mother’s Day – and you either want that or you don’t.

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