MOTHER’S DAY – Review by Susan Granger

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Perhaps the best that can be said about this cringe-worthy rom-com is that octogenarian Garry Marshall has assured his continuing Academy membership by staying ‘active’ in an industry that could all-too-soon forget he once directed hits like “Pretty Woman,” “Runaway Bride,” “Beaches” and “The Princess Diaries,” not to mention creating TV’s “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley.” Read on…

Following “Valentine’s Day” (2010) and “New Year’s Eve” (2011), Marshall’s star-studded holiday franchise now includes this treacly ensemble tribute to motherhood in its various suburban permutations.

Perennially perky Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is a divorcee with two sons whose ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant) has just married his much-younger girlfriend (Shay Mitchell). It’s a foregone conclusion that Sandy will end up with widower Bradley (Jason Sudeikis), father of teenage daughters, whose military wife (Jennifer Garner) died in combat in Afghanistan.

Jesse (Kate Hudson) and her sister are estranged from their prejudiced/homophobic mother (Margo Martindale) and father (Robert Pine). Unbeknownst to their parents, Jesse’s married to Russell (Aasif Mandvi), whose family came from India, while Gabi (Sarah Vhalke) has a lesbian spouse (Cameron Esposito).

Then there’s Kristin (Britt Robertson), who discovers that her birth mother, who gave her up for adoption a newborn, is super-successful Miranda (Julia Roberts, wearing a bizarre red wig), who hawks ‘mood pendants’ on the Home Shopping Network.

Scripted by Tom Hines, Anya Kochoff-Romano and Matthew Walker from a story by Lily Hollander, the sappy, sentimental, intertwining narratives are disjointed and the various vignettes are not only formulaic but utterly predictable, including an excursion to the ER and the runaway RV.

While it’s fun to see Hector Elizondo again (he’s always in Garry Marshall’s movies), the most spontaneous moments occur during the ‘blooper’ credits, as Jennifer Aniston calls Julia Roberts “Julia,” not “Miranda,” and Roberts stares vacantly out a train window.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Mother’s Day” is a confectionary 4. Mom deserves better.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.