By Bill Wine

By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Has director Garry Marshall cornered the market on holiday comedies?

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Maybe not, but he’s close to owning the subgenre, given that he gave us Valentine’s Day in 2010 and New Year’s Eve in 2011.

His latest tribute to a special day is Mother’s Day, not to be confused with the 1980 horror thriller or its 2010 remake, all sharing the same title.

(If this one’s a hit, are we to look forward to Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Flag Day? Just askin’…)

Once again, it’s an ensemble piece with familiar stars and intertwining stories, this time featuring several moms.

So three generations come together, mothers everywhere are celebrated, and we’re left wishing that the movie was as creative as it is mawkish.

 

(2 stars out of 4)

(2 stars out of 4)

 

Jennifer Aniston plays Sandy, a divorced mother of two boys in Atlanta whose ex-husband, played by Timothy Olyphant, has recently married a younger woman (Shay Mitchell), soon to be – gulp — her children’s stepmom.

Julia Roberts (whom Marshall directed in Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, and Valentine’s Day) plays Miranda, an accomplished author and television host who gave up her only child at birth. But as a grownup, Kristin, played by Britt Robertson, while preparing for marriage, is encouraged by her friend Jesse, played by Kate Hudson, to seek and find her mother.

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As for Jesse herself, her parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine), whom she never sees, drop in out of the blue to a home she secretly shares with a husband they disapprove of.

And Jason Sudeikis plays Bradley, a single father of two girls who continues to mourn the loss of his late wife while his kids urge him to get on with his life.

Veteran director Marshall (Nothing in Common, Overboard, Beaches, Frankie and Johnny, The Princess Diaries) works from a screenplay by Tom Hines, Lily Hollander, Anya Kochoff-Romano, and Matthew Walker that certainly seems committee-concocted.

We can’t help but compare Mother’s Day to Marshall’s two earlier celebrity-stuffed holiday flicks, both of which were resistible because Marshall paid a price for his approach.

Both were exasperatingly superficial, perhaps an inevitability in multiple-story narratives from the more-is-more school of moviemaking in which fragments of stories are dangled in front of us and then snatched away before they’re explored fully enough for us be emotionally invested in the characters.

We get pretty much the same results in Mother’s Day, which is stronger in the sentiment department that it is comedically, delivering surprisingly few laughs, especially when you consider the involvement of such comic-timing experts as Aniston, Roberts, and Sudeikis.

Instead of digging a bit deeper and sidestepping a few of the many cliches and stereotypes along the way, Mother’s Day depends on the goodwill and forgiveness of the holiday-celebrating audience instead of stimulating them with anything fresh or subtle.

So we’ll send a greeting card of 2 stars out of 4 for the middlin’ giggly tearjerker, Mother’s Day, not so much a romcom as a momdrom.

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