New to On Demand: Mother’s Day

In director Garry Marshall’s most recent film, Mother’s Day, we meet a variety of women, and one man, trying to succeed at one of the most difficult and thankless jobs in the world — being a mom. Mother’s Day is also Marshall’s last film. He died last month at the age of 81, after a long career in film and television.

Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is a single mother raising two boys while her ex-husband (Timothy Olyphant) is off with a much, MUCH younger woman. Sandy can feel that motherly role slipping through her fingers as that younger woman starts sliding into a motherly role with her boys.

Sisters Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) live next door to each other. Both are living lives that wouldn’t sit well with their mother, Flo (Margo Martindale). Gabi has decided to lie about her relationship, while Jesse just hasn’t spoken with Mom in years.

Uber-successful home shopping network queen Miranda (Julia Roberts) is completely focused on her job — so much so that when Sandy asks her if she has kids, she explains she chose a career instead.

Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) faces the difficult task of serving as both father and mother to his two girls. His wife — the girls’ mother — passed away while serving in the military, and they are coming up on their first Mother’s Day without her.

New mother Kristin (Britt Robertson) is struggling with commitment. Her boyfriend continues to propose to her, but she can’t find a way to say yes because of a missing element from her past.

The unique stories weave together in the week leading up to — and culminating in — Mother’s Day.

So many characters, yet so little time (and word count) to go deeper into the film’s plot. Marshall, a master of the romantic comedy genre, finds it relatively simple to assemble the actors who come together to make this film. But are there too many stories going on? Regrettably, my answer to that question seems to be yes — let me explain.

While I love the actors who are involved with the movie, none of the short stories really gets any depth and the film stays superficial. The result is an experience that pivots from laughter into sadness on a dime. I couldn’t catch my breath from laughter, and then felt a tug at my heartstrings, and then that tug exhausted me too much to laugh again.

The film’s length and the erratic shift in tone left me more disappointed than anything else. While I think there is definitely a market for this type of film, I would rather have seen a trilogy of 90-minute Mother’s Day-themed films instead of packing them all in a two-hour jaunt. These characters have more to tell — but can’t, as the film feels too long as it stands.

The stars are likable; you will laugh and you may tear up — because who doesn’t like a story about mothers? A mother’s job is not simple — it’s never appreciated as much as it should be and moms are always on call. Mother’s Day celebrates the variety of mothers who exist — but with so many mothers in one film, it falls short on telling their richer, total story.

Mother’s Day is available beginning Aug. 2 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.

© 2016 Open Road Films Credit: Ron Batzdorff