Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston in ‘Mother’s Day’ (Ron Batzdorff /Open Road Films via AP)
To say that some of the reviews for Mother’s Day are negative is like saying Game of Thrones contains mildly suggestive material: It is an understatement of the highest order. The latest Garry Marshall-directed ensemble rom-com that centers around a universally celebrated, secular holiday has been completely annihilated by critics. (And it’s opening in theaters today!)
At the time of this writing, it has an eight percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But what’s striking isn’t the number of bad reviews — it’s the level of vitriol so many of those assessments contain. Here’s a sampling of some of the harshest things that have been written so far about a movie in which Julia Roberts is inexplicably forced to adopt a hair style worse than the Saturday Night Live’s Target Lady’s.
Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter: “Even if you haven’t seen Garry Marshall’s last two holiday-pegged efforts — Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, with their generous smattering of stars, sub-sitcom one-liners and shameless heartstring yanking — it won’t take long to figure out what kind of movie Mother’s Day is. The signs are there in the first few minutes: perky pop song over the opening credits, hokey voiceover, people rushing through morning routines (no one is ever on time in these comedies), ill-advised dialogue (when a woman chides her young son for not wearing underwear, he replies, exasperated: ‘It’s called free balling, Mom!’). Mother’s Day is bad from the start, and it doesn’t get better.”
David Ehrlich, Indiewire: “Lifeless, ugly, and vaguely evil in its gross attempt to offer something for everyone, Mother’s Day doesn’t feel like a movie so much as it does a cinematic adaptation of Walmart.”
Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: “Motherhood, let no one disagree, is hard work. Then again, so is sitting through Garry Marshall’s new comedy Mother’s Day, a two-hour movie so forgettable that I’m not convinced it actually exists.”
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush: “So much of Mother’s Day is a collection of the strange and the bizarre. What to make of the scene where Timothy Olyphant silently contemplates a glazed donut as if he’s never seen one before in his entire life? Or the car chase involving a giant parade float shaped like a uterus and vagina? Or the character who holds a book signing (not at a bookstore, mind you), asking each fan ‘Who do I make this out to?’ until one walks up and dramatically announces ‘Your daughter!!!’”
Jen Chaney, Washington Post*: “At one point, Jennifer Garner sings a Huey Lewis and the News song in what feels like the whitest moment in the history of cinema. That is, until roughly 45 minutes later, when Jason Sudeikis does a karaoke version of ‘The Humpty Dance’ while wearing salmon-colored pants. This thing is a mess.” (*Yes, I am quoting myself. Look, if Garry Marshall can make three versions of essentially the same movie, I can quote my own review in this round-up.)
Glenn Kenny, The New York Times: “There’s suspense, as when Jason Sudeikis, playing a single dad, sings ‘The Humpty Dance’ for a roomful of children, and you wonder if he’ll make it to the line ‘I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom.’”
Alison Willmore, Buzzfeed: “Kimberly (Loni Love) is, unbelievably, the only black character of any significance in Mother’s Day, despite the movie being set in Atlanta. She’s still minor, there to provide commentary on Bradley’s life and to serve as the sort of comic relief that gets assigned to the fuller bodied — she, for instance, has trouble getting out of her lawn chair, which is the kind of visual gag that comes across as meaner in a movie that makes a point of being overstuffed with lithe blondes in athleisure wear calling each other about pilates class.”
Andrew Lapin, Uproxx: “Some sequences are cut together in a way where you’re not sure where the characters are standing or who they’re talking to. Others end with a sudden shot of a fat woman struggling to get out of a chair, or a little person simply standing in place, and we’re led to believe that is supposed to be the scene-capping joke.”
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times: “The lurching incoherence of Mother’s Day is that it crudely solicits your amusement one minute, then expects you to tear up at a series of shameless third-act twists involving a cemetery visit, an asthma attack and an impromptu wedding. Have I said too much? Hardly. If you’ve seen any of these movies, you know how this one ends — not a minute too soon.”
Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian: “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. Mother’s Day, Garry Marshall’s third in an unofficial trilogy that includes Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, is a goddamn trash masterpiece.”
Yeah, that last review is about as positive as it gets.
Watch the trailer: