Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s big releases, the comedy of “Keanu,” the maudlin humour of “Mother’s Day,” the kid’s sci fi of “Ratchet & Clank,” the punk rock fury of “Green Room” and the b-movie action of “Precious Cargo.”
Richard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson kick around the weekend’s big releases. They find out if “Keanu,” the kitten caper movie from Key & Peele is worth a look, if “Mother’s Day” is more than a Hallmark card come to the screen and if “Ratchet & Clank’s” good messages for kids make it a good movie.
Julia Roberts is one of the biggest female movie stars of all time. With a career box office north of $2 billion she, and her megawatt smile, were the stuff of blockbusters throughout the 90s and early 2000s. She was everywhere, and then, somewhere around the time Jennifer Lawrence was celebrating her thirteenth birthday Roberts stepped away. Not completely, but she jumped off the Hollywood treadmill, doing what movie stars who have nothing left to prove do.
That is, whatever she wanted. She stayed out of view, voicing a couple of animated movies and popping up in the occasional film, some high profile—like the ensemble of Ocean’s Twelve—some not—like Fireflies in the Garden—but the days of solo Pretty Woman-esque success were, by her own choosing, behind her. By and large her choices became a bit more eclectic as she relied less on the famous smile and more on flexing her acting muscles. Since 2004’s Closer her filmography has been splintered between crowd pleasers like Eat Pray Love, dramas like August: Osage County and misfires like Secret in Their Eyes.
This weekend she’s back working with the director who helped make her famous starring in Mother’s Day, her fourth collaboration with filmmaker Garry Marshall. The pair make a movie roughly every ten years, from 1990’s Pretty Woman to Runaway Bride in 1999 to 2010’s Valentine’s Day to this year’s entry, and their combo usually delivers big box office.
In between her the commercial films she makes with Marshall, Roberts makes a movie a year and while they haven’t always connected with audiences many are worth a look.
Duplicity is a romantic comedy about espionage. Imagine if Rock Hudson and Doris Day starred in Mission Impossible. Instead you have Roberts as an experienced CIA officer looking for a change and Clive Owen as a charming MI6 agent. Both left the world of international intrigue for the infinitely more profitable task of corporate security. Together they launch an elaborate plan of corporate dirty tricks to steal a top-secret formula that will revolutionize the cosmetics industry. Roberts and Owen are witty and charming and Duplicity, with its entertaining performances and stylish look, is a bit of fun despite its convoluted story.
August: Osage County, an all-star remounting of Tracey Letts’s hit Broadway play, gives Roberts her juiciest role in years. As Barbara she’s a bit of an enigma. She’s a jumble of mixed, complicated emotions, capable of both great kindness and compassion but able only to express herself through tough love. When she explodes she lets loose a lifetime of rage stemming from her mother’s (played by Meryl Streep) mistreatment. When they go head-to-head it is the clash of the titans and an unforgettable scene.
Finally, there’s Larry Crowne, a boomer comedy aimed at audiences with memories long enough to remember when gas only cost 54 cents a litre, none of your neighbours had foreclosure signs on their front lawns and Tom Hanks and Roberts ruled the box office. It’s an uplifting comedy about middle age, brave enough to tackle modern problems like downsizing and foreclosure, but non-challenging enough to weave all the bad stuff into a pseudo romantic comedy. Hanks and Roberts cut through the material like hot knives through butter and Julia treats audiences to one of her trademarked laughing scenes.
Does Garry Marshall work for Hallmark or does he just love holidays? In the last few years he has turned his lens toward “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve,” movies that bundle stars of dubious box office power in big, glittery packages to celebrate the holidays with all the joy and emotional resonance of a Budweiser Clydesdale commercial.
This weekend he casts his maudlin eye toward “Mother’s Day,” a look at mother’s and daughters featuring a Holiday Parade Womb Float.
Marshall continues with the scattershot story telling of his other holiday movies, presenting the story montage style. It’s as though he’s surfing the net, jumping from site to site, looking for something interesting to rest on. Three stories randomly dovetail together with contemporary motherhood as the glue that binds them.
Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is a divorced mother of two whose kids like her ex’s much younger wife (Shay Mitchell). Sandy’s gym is run by widower Bradley (Jason Sudeikis), a guy with kids of his own who dreads Mother’s Day. Then there’s Kristin (Britt Robertson), a young woman searching for biological mom, Home Shopping Network star Miranda (Julia Roberts). The final flower in the Mother’s Day bouquet is Jesse (Kate Hudson), an overstressed mom who, along with her doctor husband Russell (Aasif Mandvi), is trying to deal with an unexpected visit from her squabbling, judgemental parents (Margo Martindale and Robert Pine).
There’s more—it’s a Gary Marshall All-Star-Holiday-Extravaganza so there’s always more—like Jesse’s gay sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke), Timothy Olyphant as Sandy’s former flame and a Jennifer Garner cameo—which I suppose is appropriate because the holidays are supposed to bring everyone together are they not?
“Mother’s Day” is filled to over flowing with faux heart warming moments, like a Lifetime movie on steroids. It hits all the emotional hot buttons—a dead wife who also happens to be a veteran, abandonment, first love, an awkward dad, kids growing up too fast—and tops off the whole thing with two, count ‘em two, dewy-eyed American sweethearts, Roberts and Aniston. To avoid troubling the audience with actual human emotions Marshall runs the whole thing through The Sitcomizer™ to ensure maximum blandness and erase the possibility that viewers will see something they haven’t already witnessed a hundred times before.
None of that would matter much if the movie was funny but real laughs are scarcer than last minute Mother’s Day brunch reservations. A likeable cast is wasted on a movie that panders to greeting card sentiment and slapstick.
The best part of “Mother’s Day” is that it puts Marshall one closer to running out of holidays to cinematically celebrate. What’s next? Hug Your Cat Day starring Courteney Cox and Luke Perry?