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Mother's Day (2016)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/2/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/18/2016

When Garry Marshall recently passed away, I began to think about his career and his finest accomplishment. For me, it was his appearance as an actor in 1991's Soapdish and his immortal line, "Did I miss a meeting?" However, when I look at his list of credits as a director, I'm not as excited. While he had some hits and popular films on his resume, The Princess Diaries is the only one which jumps out at me as being watchable. Over the last few years, Marshall was involved in a series of movies which focused on various stories. First, there was Valentine's Day, and then came New Year's Eve. Marshall's last effort was a third entry in this thematic series, Mother's Day. Was he able to go out on a high note?

Mother's Day takes place in Atlanta and focuses on the lives of several characters. Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is a single mom who is raising two sons. She has an amicable relationship with her ex-husband, Henry (Timothy Olyphant), but this becomes a bit rocky when she learns that Henry has married the much younger Tina (Shay Mitchell). Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) is a widower who is looking after two teenaged daughters. It's been a year since his wife died, but he has not moved forward. Zack (Jack Whitehall) is trying to make it as a stand-up comic, but he's very frustrated that Kristin (Britt Robertson), with whom he's been for five years and the mother of his child, refuses to marry him. Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are sisters who live across the street from one another. Both are avoiding seeing their parents, as they are both hiding relationships of which they know said parents would not approve. Miranda (Julia Roberts) is a famous jewelry designer who is in town to appear on a home-shopping show.

So, do the makers of Love, Actually just sit at home and laugh at these movies? That 2003 British classic wasn't the first film to tackle multiple, interlocking storylines, but it is the penultimate example of the genre. It made the task of examining the romantic lives of various characters look easy. The characters were (somewhat) diverse and the movie did a great job of balancing humor, drama, and utter heartbreak. Well, apparently it's not easy, as Marshall and his cohorts have now tried three times to replicate the Love, Actually formula and they've failed miserably each time, with Mother's Day arguably being the worst of the bunch.

The problems with Mother's Day are myriad, but the most telling one is that the movie simply has no heart. We are presented with storylines and ideas which should be moving, but they simply aren't. The entire affair simply feels artificial and despite what the movie is telling us, the emotional content never rises above that of a TV drama. This may be linked to the lack of originality in the stories. Widowers, dealing with exs, communication issues with parents -- we've seen all of this before, and we've seen it done better elsewhere. Anyone whose surprised by anything in the stories here must have never seen a movie before.

The movie also suffers from a bad case in being vanilla, and I mean that in two senses of the word. First of all, the movie is simply bland, and some of this blandness stems from some scenes which are so mundane that they come across as weird. Both of these moments center on Sandy. The first occurs when she attends a musical program in which her sons are involved, while the second takes place at a backyard party. Both scenes contain a lot of shots of kids doing things, but very little content or story. A lot of this footage could have been cut and the movie would not have suffered. A scan of the credits show a lot of people named "Marshall" in these scenes. Are they there just to show off Garry's family? Secondly, the movie is also "vanilla" in its lack of diversity. I normally don't talk about this, but there are a lot of white people in this movie. White people who are apparently very rich and have no financial worries. (Seriously, what does Henry do for a living?) There are some non-whites in the film, but they feel very tacked on. The movie also features a gay couple, but it seems to think that this is a big deal.

Mother's Day exists in that Nancy Meyers world where everybody is white, rich, and happy and don't have any real problems. It also exists in a world where Home Shopping Network is still relevant. All of this this serves to prove the point that this movie is squarely aimed at white, middle-class, middle-aged women who want drama that offer any really challenges or controversy. This is the third movie entitled Mother's Day that I've reviewed, and I guess that it's the second best of the bunch, only because the one in third place was low-budget rape-fest.

Mother's Day offer the Greek chorus of gal pals which every man has in real life on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source materials. The picture has a decided crispness to it, which lends it a nice amount of depth and detail. The colors look fantastic and the image is never overly dark or bright. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.7 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As one would expect, a movie like this isn't filled with bombastic audio effects. Some crowd scenes provide mild stereo and surround effects, and the music delivers minimal bass response. Otherwise, we are treated to dialogue with comes from the center and front channels.

The Mother's Day Blu-ray Disc is surprisingly short on extra features. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 5 minutes. All of these scenes are brief and don't really expand on any of the plots or characters in the film. The only other extra is a 10-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long