By Kathryn Whitney Boole
“Mother’s Day” is a movie of vignettes featuring an endearing group of friends and family members. The movie was conceived as a vehicle for Garry Marshall to direct in the style of his popular films “Valentine’s Day” (2010) and “New Year’s Eve” (2011), movies that also follow the relationships of multiple people threaded together in a series of stories. The format resembles that of a of TV sitcom.
Marshall, of course, has had a legendary career as an actor, director and producer in both films and television, beginning as a writer on Danny Thomas’s show “Make Room for Daddy” in 1960. It’s not surprising that his films suggest a television-style approach. He has been involved with much of the greatest TV of all time as actor, writer, director or producer.
“Mother’s Day” is a continuation of not only of Marshall’s style of filmmaking, but also of his collaboration with Julia Roberts. Every 10 years since he directed her in “Pretty Woman” (1990), the two have worked together. In 1999 they did “Runaway Bride.” Rumor has it Marshall joked with Julia that although it has now been only six years since he directed her in “Valentine’s Day” (2010), it might be wise to push their schedule a notch since he is now 81 years old.
In “Mother’s Day.” Roberts plays a woman who is hiding great personal pain behind a stiff professional façade. Such lengths were taken to represent her personality through hair, makeup and costume, that her acting skill was buried. She appears stiff and unattractive. The exuberance for life that personified her previous on-screen roles has been stifled a bit in this one.
Marshall and his team of comedy writers had an overall idea for the story of “Mother’s Day.” However the script was written on the fly, often with scenes being delivered to actors as they stepped on set to film. Thus the writers could pick up on the quirks and nuances of the actors as they materialized. It can be difficult to get the continuity to flow in a series of character studies like this, and writing it at the last minute while shooting has its drawbacks. Though there are many fun scenes, for the most part depth of story and character is lacking.
The enjoyment of the cast does prevail through the potpourri of scenes and vignettes. Marshall is said to be a joy to work with and it shows. Many of the skits are quite funny. The actors were able to build some nuance in their characters in spite of their relatively short screen time in this melting pot of stories. Memorable are Shay Mitchell as a young trophy wife, Timothy Olyphant as an ex-husband, Hector Elizondo as a talent agent, Jason Sudeikis as a widower, and Britt Robertson and Jack Whitehall as a young couple working out their relationship.
Perhaps this is not the director’s finest work. However, it has its moments. It’s always great fun to experience a Garry Marshall movie. Hint: might be a great way to spend Mother’s Day!
Rated PG-13. 118 minutes.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. Reach her at email@example.com. For previously published reviews, see https://kwboole.wordpress.com.