Last night, I did the unthinkable: I went to see Mother’s Day. If you’re lucky enough to be unaware of this movie, Mother’s Day is the third in a series of disastrous holiday-themed ensemble rom-coms directed by Gary Marshall. Despite never having seen Valentine’s Day (2010) or, until researching this post, heard of New Year's Eve (2011), somehow I found myself sitting in a movie theater with 11 strangers and 134 empty seats.
Whatever you do with your mom this Mother's Day, don't you dare subject her to this.
Besides being a compelling, if accidental, argument against diversity in film (please continue to leave us POC out of this bullshit in the future, seriously), all in all, the script feels like a rough outline, based on vague notes like “make somebody gay” or “abandonment issues!" The actors all did their best with the material they were given, which is to say they acted with the ease and naturalism of Sims.
The film follows intertwined stories based on classic white-people tropes that the 81-year-old Marshall probably invented himself (HE CREATED HAPPY DAYS, PEOPLE, HE’S BEEN DOING THIS A LONG TIME). Divorced mother of two and interior designer Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) copes with her ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant)’s elopement with twentysomething Tina (Shay Mitchell) by arguing with herself within earshot of other people.
Sandy's inadvertent eavesdroppers include love interest slash widower Bradley (Jason Sudeikis), a literal clown, and potential employer Miranda Collins. This Home Shopping Network superstar with Oprah-esque influence is expertly played by the wig Julia Roberts wore in Notting Hill. Long ago, Collins gave her daughter up for adoption and, spoiler alert, her daughter (Britt Robertson) is now a new mom whose British baby daddy Zack (Jack Whitehall), a struggling standup comic, desperately wants to marry her.
Other characters include Sandy’s chill yoga enthusiast friend Jesse (Kate Hudson), who is married to Indian guy Russell (Aasif Mandvi) but hasn't told her parents because they’re racist. Jesse lives right next door to her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke), who has a son with her wife Max (hi Carmen Esposito!). Gabi hasn't told their parents about her spouse, either, because they’re also homophobic!
More than anything, the film was a testament to my own patience. I truly wanted to give up on this nearly two-hour ordeal, but I persevered and stuck it out. To save you and your mother some time and money, here’s a handy recounting of all the times in Mother’s Day I should have just stood up and left.
- When the the opening song was a Meghan Trainor doo-wop jam about how “you might have a mom and she might be the bomb, but ain’t nobody got a mom like mine.”
- When Gabi describes the giant uterus float she built with Max (because they’re lesbians!) for the Mother’s Day parade as a symbol that “we all come from the same place: gay, straight, transgender, black, white.” Thanks for finally taking a stand, Hollywood!
- When Bradley’s daughter said, “I can’t believe it’s already been a year since mom died,” because exposition.
- When Tina suggests Sandy tweet at her if she wants an update on the kids, implying she uses Twitter for anything other than sharing dank memes.
- When Henry asks Sandy if he can take the kids for Mother's Day now that they have a new step-mom.
- When Bradley’s other daughter reminds him that “Mom loved karaoke, remember?” as he’s literally watching a video of his late wife (Jennifer Garner) singing karaoke.
- When Jesse and Gabi’s parents happily show up to Jesse’s house in their RV unannounced, after years of near-estrangement, and refuse to drink Hoegaarden and Stella because they sound like the “frickin’ United Nations.”
- When I matched with two dudes on Tinder while I was staring at my phone during this scene.
- When Earl (Robert Pine), Gabi and Jesse's dad, asks Russell if he’s the “houseboy” and then calls him a “towelhead." Racism: It's funny!
- When it’s revealed that Russell and Jesse’s child is named Tanner and you KNOW they’re going to make a skin color joke. (They do. They do make a skin color joke.)
- When Zack can’t find anyone to watch his baby, he takes her onstage with him during his set at a comedy competition.
- When Zack finishes his stupid set and an audience member remarks that she loves babies. Her date suggests they have one and she reminds him that it’s their first date, and then he asks her what she’s doing tomorrow. THAT REALLY HAPPENED.
- When the baby won the comedy show. A pretty glaring indictment of the standup comedy scene, tbh.
- When Jesse threatens she'll leave Russell and he scrambles out of the house into the RV. The background music is infused with some light tabla. Yeah, I heard that, you dicks.
- When I finished my popcorn.
- When Earl tricks everyone into thinking the brakes are cut and somehow this resolves everything with everyone, because the fear of death just does that, even though Jesse lied to Russell about her parents being in a mental institution FOR YEARS.
- When I finished my Icee.
- When the RV gets pulled over by cops who, when they see Russell, reach for their guns and order him to get on the ground. Because again: funny racism!
- When Bradley injures himself while rapping "The Humpty Dance" on his fancy karaoke machine because Sandy’s at the hospital with her son and that second meet cute is GOING TO HAPPEN, DAMMIT. And it does. And whatever, the movie's finally over.
- Wait, no, it's not over. There's a blooper reel, the highlights of which include Jennifer Aniston saying the word "justified" to Justified star Timothy Olyphant and accidentally calling Julia Roberts "Julia" instead of "Miranda." Okay.