A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mother's Day is the third holiday-based movie from director Garry Marshall. With an all-star cast led by Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, and Kate Hudson, the comedy follows several interconnected characters as they deal with motherhood issues. There's infrequent strong language ("s--t," "a--hole," one "f--king") and some racial stereotypes/insensitive comments about Indian characters (like "towelhead" and "darker than a Frapuccino"). There are a few marital kisses and a scantily clad character but no sex scenes, and overall the movie, which promotes strong bonds between mothers and their children, is intended to be a celebration of motherhood.
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What's the story?
MOTHER'S DAY follows a series of Atlanta-area characters who cross paths during the week leading up to the titular holiday. Mom of two Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is so friendly with her ex, Henry (Timothy Olyphant), that she thinks he wants to get back together -- but instead he tells her he's eloped with the much younger Tina (Shay Mitchell). Sisters/neighbors Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) try to reconcile with their bigoted mother (Margo Martindale) after she surprises them with a visit and discovers that one daughter is married to an Indian man and the other is a lesbian stepmother. Meanwhile, young mom Kristin (Britt Robertson) keeps refusing marry her baby's loving father because of her abandonment issues over not knowing her biological mother. And widower Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) must act as both father and mother to his two girls, while jewelry entrepreneur Miranda (Julia Roberts) considers her business her baby.
Is it any good?
Director Garry Marshall takes his all-star cast and wastes them in this banal, forgettable holiday-themed comedy. Although there are admittedly a few laughs courtesy of a stand-up comedy contest that's part of the story, much of the movie is eye-rollingly mediocre. Sure, it's momentarily amusing to see Aniston and Sudeikis share the screen again, but most of the jokes are stale or straight-up imitations of other comedies. In one scene, Bradley must suffer the supposed indignity of buying his adolescent daughter tampons and grabs the microphone away from the cashier, trying to double-check the price. Sound familiar? Basically the exact same thing happened in Mr. Mom.
And as talented as the cast is, the script is so obvious and predictable that you can tell what will happen and who will come together (and how) from nearly the very beginning. Probably the only thing worth noting is that character actor Hector Elizondo appears as Miranda's faithful agent. Elizondo is to Marshall what John Ratzenberger is to Pixar; he's been in every one of the director's theatrical releases (remember him and Roberts in Pretty Woman?). Skip this theatrical release and stream it instead. Since it's so insubstantial, it's the kind of comedy best saved for when you'd really rather multitask.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Mother's Day's messages about motherhood/mother-child relationships. Who has the healthiest relationship in the movie, and why?
Is the movie making a statement about what makes a "good" or "bad" mother? Do you agree? Can you think of other movies about moms? How does this one compare?
Two white characters make racist/insensitive comments about a character who's Indian. Is it ever funny to rely on stereotypes for laughs?
Which characters would you consider to be role models? How do their actions contrast with those of other characters?
This isn't the first holday-centric ensemble comedy; do you think the formula works? What holiday do you think will be next portrayed in this manner?
- In theaters: April 29, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: August 2, 2016
- Cast: Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Aniston
- Director: Garry Marshall
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: language and some suggestive material
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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