[Screen It]


(2016) (Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson) (PG-13)

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Dramedy: Various people deal with relationships in their lives as Mother's Day approaches.
Sandy (JENNIFER ANISTON) is an interior designer who lives in Atlanta with her two boys, Peter (BRANDON SPINK) and Mikey (CALEB BROWN). She's hoping to land a job working for successful businesswoman and TV home shopping network pitch person, Miranda (JULIA ROBERTS), who's in town with her agent/manager, Lance (HECTOR ELIZONDO), promoting her latest book. But Sandy is thrown for a loop when her ex, Henry (TIMOTHY OLYPHANT), informs her that she's recently married the much younger Tina (SHAY MITCHELL), who Sandy worries will usurp her mother status with the boys.

Her friend Jesse (KATE HUDSON) has other concerns, in that she hasn't told her parents, Flo (MARGO MARTINDALE) and Earl (ROBERT PINE), that she's married an Indian doctor, Russell (AASIF MANDVI), who's never met them due to believing they've been long-institutionalized for dementia. But Jesse isn't alone in such deception as her sister, Gabi (SARAH CHALKE), who lives next door, likewise hasn't told their parents that she lives with her lesbian partner, Max (CAMERON ESPOSITO).

At the same time, ex-Marine turned gym owner Bradley (JASON SUDEIKIS) is still reeling from the military death of his wife in the past year. That's left him alone to raise their 16-year-old daughter, Rachel (JESSI CASE), and her younger sister, Vicky (ELLA ANDERSON), by himself. And bar waitress Kristin (BRITT ROBERTSON) still isn't sure if she wants to marry her bartender boyfriend, Zack (JAKE WHITEHALL), despite them being together for five years and having a daughter. As Mother's Day approaches, all of the above must contend with the various relationships in their lives.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Like most everyone around the world, I love holidays. Lots of people get the day off, businesses make money as people go out shopping or head off on mini-vacations, and everyone generally seems happy. In fact, while I loathe some of the new made-up holidays (believing the greeting card companies are behind them just to sell more cards), I'm all in favor of creating additional national ones that everyone can enjoy, rather than goofy stuff such as National Pugs Catching Frisbees in Frilly Dresses Day (don't anyone get any ideas).

That said, if any such new holiday would somehow give director Gary Marshall an idea for another special day themed film, I might have to reconsider. After all, while there are still plenty of current ones to choose from, he's already laid claim to New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day and now Mother's Day as settings for his own brand of poorly made yet star-studded romantic comedies all titled for those dates.

Like those previous entries from 2010 and 2011, this one features multiple characters in multiple storylines that intersect at various points, all related in one way or another to mothers. Jennifer Aniston plays one who fears that she's going to be replaced in the hearts and minds of her two boys (Brandon Spink and Caleb Brown) since her ex (Timothy Olyphant) has now married a much younger woman (Shay Mitchell).

Her friend (Kate Hudson) can't bring it upon herself to let her racist mother (Margo Martindale) know that she married an Indian man (Aasif Mandvi), while her sister (Sarah Chalke) has the same fears regarding being in a lesbian relationship. Britt Robertson plays a new mother who isn't sure she wants to tie the knot with her live-in boyfriend (Jake Whitehall) who's the father to her child, while Julia Roberts plays a successful businesswoman who put career ahead of any family, all of which makes her the odd duck out (and thus likely to be the secret mother to one of the characters). And Jason Sudeikis plays a father of two girls (Jessi Case and Ella Anderson) who's facing his first Mother's Day without his wife (Jennifer Garner, briefly seen in a video) who apparently died in the line of duty as a Marine.

The cast is terrific, but probably to no one's surprise, Marshall's direction is not. Working from a lackluster, contrived and sitcomy script penned by Anya Kochoff Romano and Matt Walker & Tom Hines, he delivers the same sort of pabulum he's been routinely unleashing on the masses, with little sense of timing or building momentum. Some scenes play out far longer than they should, while others abruptly stop before really doing anything, making one wonder why they were included in the first place.

Certain little life lessons (such as we are what the world thinks we are until we're not) end up being delivered, and Marshall regulars Hector Elizondo and Larry Miller make their obligatory appearances for poignancy or comedic relief. And some animals are present to deliver double takes or reaction shots to the comedy or other scenes (when said animals are not pivotal to the moment). When that sort of thing is included, you know you're in trouble, and I ended up losing count of said shots.

What you'll end up losing -- unless you enjoyed the likes of "Valentine's Day" or "New Year's Eve" - is around two hours of your life, never to get those minutes, dead nerve endings in your rear or fried brain cells in your noggin' back again. Like its immediate predecessors, I'm guessing the film will have its share of admirers and box office ticket sales, no doubt fueled by a solid cast and the public's range of loving or simply enjoying these sorts of multiple storyline films. For me, I guess this all means I'll just have to ready myself for "Father's Day," "Memorial Day" or "Independence Day." Come to think of it, aliens attacking a Gary Marshall holiday film could be a welcomed guilty pleasure so I'll just try to think about that while quickly forgetting the bland, rom-com, sitcom stylings of "Mother's Day." It rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed April 25, 2016 / Posted April 29, 2016

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