Mothers Day review almost transcendentally terrible

Surely destined to become a camp classic, this movie features the likes of Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston spouting unintentionally hilarious dialogue

As a critic Im frequently given the unenviable task of reporting on a bad film. Time and again hopeful people often ask, yes, but is it so bad that its actually good? and almost always the answer is, no, no, its just plain bad. But not this time. If this were a just world, someone like John Waters will end up presenting this film at midnight screenings as audiences, dressed in character, hurl rejoinders at the screen. Mothers Day, Garry Marshalls third in an unofficial trilogy that includes Valentines Day and New Years Eve, is a goddamn trash masterpiece.

Inelegantly linking many half-baked stories through coincidence and far-fetched plotting, Mothers Day works as an aspirational film for the most boring people alive. Each scene reveals another layer of woe for Atlantas upper-middle class, where everyone lives in an enormous house but no one seems to have a job. (Interesting note: there are, apparently, no black people in Atlanta, except for one plus-sized sass machine who drops one pearl of wisdom for each chunky sight-gag.) The gimmick with these films is to cram in as many characters as possible, and then watch as they all come together. Its true that if, in real life, you discovered that the gal at the bar was the long lost daughter of the famous woman on TV, it might stir some feeling. But when these are one-note characters spewing sub-soap opera dialogue in drama-resistant scenes, the wow factor is somewhat muted.

The main threads include Jennifer Aniston, forever the Voice of the Dumped, dealing with her ex-husband (Timothy I-Will-Squint-In-Every-Scene Olyphant) marrying a much younger, bouncier woman (Shay Mitchell). Her neighbor (Kate Hudson, whose first line includes the strangely resonant philosophical query Pilates?) is married to Aasif Mandvi but has hidden this fact from her racist, RV-cruising parents, Margo Martindale and Robert Pine, both of whom deliver their lines as if the sketches on Hee-Haw were visions of restraint. Nearby theres Bradley (Jason Sudeikis), an ex-Marine father of two girls (one of whom asks her father to go to the store and pick up t-t-tampons) whose wife died a year ago. She was a Marine, too, as is made evident when each visit to her grave is accompanied by bugles and snares on the soundtrack.

Looming above this all, like a one-woman Greek chorus, is ice queen Miranda (Julia Roberts), a Home Shopping Network mogul stoically hawking jewelry that (ironically!) emit their wearers emotions. For the first half of the picture, shes just hovering about in prominently placed televisions like an Orwellian peddler, but with Mothers Day looming, this woman with no attachments, save for her manager, played by Pretty Woman co-star Hector Elizondo, enters our world of messy relationships. (Fear not, Mothers Day takes a moment to break the fourth wall and make a direct reference to Garry Marshalls 1990 hit).

Mothers Day is an unending atrocity of bland conversations, many of which feature clearly dubbed-in lines to make sure the most unsophisticated audiences never get lost. As Kristin (Britt Robertson) explains that being put up for adoption has left her hesitant to marry her babys father, she blurts out (on her scene partners close-up) I have abandonment issues. This got the biggest laugh of the film, even with a whole minor storyline set at a comedy club.

The cheap plot devices range from inopportune flat tires to accidentally answered Skype calls to Sudekis, karaoking his butt off to the Humpty Dance, forgetting the dimensions of his own home and plummeting over a railing. Listen, somethings gotta get him to the hospital for the big meet-cute finish.

One cant deny, however, that this sort of badness this transcendent, almost unearthly badness isnt oddly comforting. Even the music sounds ripped from the background of a hotels in-house channel circa 1986. Marshall is celebrated in Hollywood, but he does have more than his share of junk under his belt. We can talk nostalgically about Laverne and Shirley (just one of his dozens of television hits) but lets not kid ourselves about its intellectual heft. Mothers Day is garbage, but its a wholesome type of garbage they just dont make anymore. Our mothers deserve a whole lot better, but at least this ode to the Hallmark holiday at least wont be soon forgotten.

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