'Mother's Day' Is Not a Reason to Celebrate

"Mother's Day" (Open Road Films)

Garry Marshall is a Hollywood legend. He is the man who brought us "Laverne & Shirley," "Happy Days" and many more TV hits. He also brought to the screen "Pretty Woman," "The Princess Diaries," "Beaches" and other solidly entertaining movies. Recently he has been on a holiday themed series of movies that has included "New Year's Eve" and "Valentine's Day." The latest in this series is a star packed film titled "Mother's Day." It has all the glossy appeal of his other projects but somehow the magic has seeped out.

As is his way, Marshall has several diverse stories going at the same time but they are all somehow connected. Jesse (Kate Hudson) appears to be the connecting character in this movie. She and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke) live across the street from each other. They are best friends as well as sister's and share the secrets that they have kept from their parents (Robert Pine and Margo Martindale).

Jesse is also best friends with Sandy (Jennifer Aniston), a divorced mother of two sons. Her ex, Henry (Timothy Olyphant), suddenly announces he has gotten married to a woman half his age named Tina (Shay Mitchell). This new "mom' situation does not go over well with Sandy.

Meanwhile Jesse has another friend Kristen (Britt Robertson) who is in a relationship with a stand up comic named Zack (Jack Whitehall). They have a daughter but Kristen is avoiding marriage like the plague. She was adopted as a child and now has abandonment issues.

The guy who runs the gym where Sandy has signed up for yoga classes is named Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) and his life is very complicated. His Army soldier wife Dana (Jennifer Garner) was killed in combat and he is now raising their two daughters alone. Being a new widower causes him to be overprotective of his girls.

Add to this mix a business woman named Miranda (Julia Roberts) who sells products on HSN and lives in Atlanta where everyone else also lives. They all see her on TV and Sandy is even trying to get a job with her company. Miranda has never been married but any fool can plainly see within ten minutes there is a family in her future.

Marshall has to keep all of these plot lines juggling in the air, and he has shown in the past he can do that with ease. But not in this movie and not with this cast. Most of the storylines feel contrived, and most of the emotional punches of the script are cheesy. The relationship section of the film concerning the two sisters and their bigoted parents seems overly forced, and the reconciliation seems like a pathetic fairy tale.

The highlight of the movie is Aniston's character and performance. Watching "Sandy" is like watching an episode of "Friends" ten years later and Rachel Green is the star. She is still cuter than cute and delightful in every way. Julia Roberts still has her acting chops but her storyline is weak and they have done everything they could to make her look older and matronly. Plus in the early scenes it is revealed her character might be a, gulp, grandmother. I am old, you are old, we are all old!!!!

The film is rated PG-13 for profanity (more than you expect) and adult situations.

There is a lot of talent on display and some of the scenes tug at the heartstrings, but overall this is mediocre moviemaking at best.

I scored "Mother's Day" a less than celebratory 5 out of 10.

Jackie K Cooper