Two similarly-themed movies with the title Mother's Day were racing to theaters at the same time, in hopes of capitalizing on the holiday for dear ol' Mom. The first and starriest was last week's awful and casually racist film by Garry Marshall, the third and hopefully final entry in his unholy series. The other, which features recognizable but less bankable stars, was forced into the bland title of Mothers and Daughters, and also tells multiple interconnected stories about the joys and pains of motherhood. While it's certainly the classier of the two films, it's also so dry and forgettable that you'll be begging for anyone to say something offensive.
It's like somebody has some kind of personal vendetta against Moms with all the crappy movies being made about them. Directed by Paul Duddridge and Nigel Levy, Mothers and Daughters could have been plucked from the Lifetime Movie "rejection" pile. Each story is either wildly heavy-handed in its message, unbearably clichéd, or woefully unsatisfying. The cast is a collection of talented actresses you wish were in something much better. Selma Blair gets the centerpiece role as Rigby, a hip Manhattan photographer on the verge of a big career break shooting a famous rock star (Agents of SHIELD's Luke Mitchell), until she discovers she's pregnant. D'oh! Decisions decisions! Does she have the baby, or get an abortion? Or does she enter into an awkward romance with her hot married doctor (Quinton Aaron), who seems to have no problem flirting with his patients?
Other stories are little more than extended vignettes, and as such don't go far beyond needs of the plot. Sharon Stone plays Nina, a titan of the fashion industry, who can't stand how her talented daughter Nina (Alexandra Daniels) is wasting her life as a waitress. Courteney Cox is Beth, who is forced to reveal a bombshell of a family secret to Becca (Christina Ricci) that threatens to destroy all of their lives; Mira Sorvino is Georgina, who has a new line of “haute couture" bras ready to launch, a supermodel boyfriend, and a secret connection to another character in the film. It's not hard to figure out who it is, honestly. Nothing is very complicated here. You'll spend most of the time wondering how there can be such an incredible lack of diversity in a multi-tiered film like this with such an expansive cast.
While most of these brief little stories hold little emotional depth, another shows the potential of what the film could have been. Susan Sarandon (who was just in the far superior maternal comedy The Meddler) and her real-life daughter Eva Amurri Martino bring real dramatic weight to the complicated relationship between a mother who is trying to get back in the life of her estranged daughter Gale who split when the family rejected her ambitious boyfriend. In one brilliant, contentious interaction (with Sarandon on FaceTime or something) everything the film has to say about the mother/daughter bond is captured, as Gale pleads for her mother's support while pushing her away at the same time. Who knows if Sarandon and Amurri were channeling some of their own past grievances but the authenticity of that brief squabble is the realest thing Mothers and Daughters has to offer.
Rating: 2 out of 5