There are 1.7 million black people in metro-Atlanta, which is where Garry Marshall’s latest and most heinous ensemble atrocity takes place. However, there’s only one black character in Mother’s Day, a minor one played by Loni Love. She plays one of three friends to the widowed character played by Jason Sudeikis. She’s the sassy one. She has a combined total of about 3 minutes of screen time, which is actually more than Jennifer Garner, who plays the deceased wife of Sudeikis’ character in one flashback video of her singing karaoke on a military base (we assume that she was killed in action but to mention it in Mother’s Day would be like dipping a kitten into a vat of battery acid).
The lack of diversity is a minor issue in Mother’s Day compared to a storyline that is actually and actively racist, homophobic, and classist (the trifecta!). In one of the 170 subplots in the movie, Margo Martindale and Robert Pine play white-trash trailer park residents who drive their RV out to visit their daughters, played by Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke (why Sarah! Why!), only to be surprised to find out that Hudson is married to a “towelhead” (Aasif Mandvi) and Chalke is married to a woman (Cameron Esposito), who Chalke tries to pass off as her “business” partner.
What ensues is a series of racist and homophobic jokes that I assume are meant to be adorably old-fashioned, but are actually clueless, tone-deaf and really fucking racist. But it’s OK, see! Because Mandvi’s Indian mother is also racist against white people, and thinks racist jokes at her expense are funny! (Actual line she delivers when Martindale suggests to Mandvi’s mom that she would be comfortable living in Las Vegas because it is surrounded by sand: “I don’t get that joke, it sounds racist … And funny!”)
Jennifer Aniston also appears in the film, playing a mom competing for the affections of her two children with the trophy wife (Shay Mitchell) of her ex, played by Timothy Olyphant (why! Timothy! Why!) The only thing offensive about that subplot is the same thing that’s offensive about everything else in the film: It’s terribly written, painfully acted, and cornier than a port-o-potty at a Maize festival.
Julia Roberts and her terrible wig are also in this, too, playing a successful entrepreneur who sells crap on the Home Shopping Network. Her character intersects with that of a character played by Britt Robertson (why, Britt! Why!) a new mother searching for her biological mom. I’ll let you figure out how that subplot converges, but I bet you wouldn’t guess it involves a stand-up comedy set hosted by Jon Lovitz, a very large gay man named Tiny holding a baby in his “pillowy bosom” or a dwarf named Shorty throwing a wedding in a bar.
Listen: I don’t have to tell you this movie is awful, and that you will feel nothing but embarrassment for actors like Sarah Chalke, Timothy Olyphant, Jason Sudeikis, Emmy-winner Margo Martindale, and Oscar-winner Julia Roberts. I do feel the need to tell you, however, that it is much, much worse than you might think it is. It is not a harmlessly pleasant way to spend two hours. It is not something you watch idly on cable one day. It’s not something you take grandma out of the nursing home to see for a Sunday afternoon diversion on Mother’s Day because your sweet, doddering Nana will fucking cut you if you make her put in her teeth to go see this. She will take out her penny candy and choke you while stabbing you in the goddamn eye with her knitting needle, and you will deserve it.