Not much of a Mother's Day

Julia Roberts (left) is an accomplished TV personality with a secret and Jennifer Aniston (right) plays a woman whose ex-husband has married a young bride.
Julia Roberts (left) is an accomplished TV personality with a secret and Jennifer Aniston (right) plays a woman whose ex-husband has married a young bride.PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

REVIEW / COMEDY DRAMA

MOTHER'S DAY (M18)

118 minutes/Opens tomorrow/1/5 stars

The story: In the days nearing Mother's Day, a bunch of tenuously related people learn to deal with motherhood and their own mothers in different ways.

Sandy's (Jennifer Aniston) ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant) has married a much younger bride (Shay Mitchell); Miranda (Julia Roberts) is an accomplished TV personality with a secret; Jesse (Kate Hudson) has yet to own up to her mother (Margo Martindale) that she had eloped; and adopted Kristin (Britt Robertson) vows to find her biological mother.

After Valentine's Day (2010), New Year's Eve (2011), and now Mother's Day, director Garry Marshall is fast running out of Hallmark holidays to make movies about - and it would be for the better, too.

Much like his earlier works, this latest effort feels just as contrived and commercialised as the day it pretends to celebrate.

From the slapstick gags to the forced dialogue, where characters earnestly compare a clown's trick handkerchief to a mother's endless love for her children, everything about this film rings false.

Most perplexing of all is the TV shopping presenter played by Marshall's go-to leading lady Roberts, who has little to do other than to pop up every now and then to hawk some jewellery in front of a camera.

Supposedly, she is written into the script for comedic effect, but it never quite works as the role itself just feels unnecessary.

To be fair, there is a sprinkling of genuinely tender moments, such as the scene where Robertson finally introduces her baby daughter to her estranged mother - and you wish that there were more of these.

Marshall mostly prefers to stick to his old-fashioned brand of studio sitcom humour, playing cartoonish gags such as the ones where a character gets her hand stuck in a vending machine and another character falls off the balcony while singing karaoke.

When he attempts to be edgy, the result is feeble: The relationship of a lesbian couple who fashion a parade float in the shape of a womb is written too thinly to make much of a statement.

So, what's next? A movie about April Fool's Day? Wouldn't that be be the biggest joke of them all?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline 'Not much of a Mother's Day'. Print Edition | Subscribe