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Garry Marshall ruins another special occasion with ‘Mother’s Day’

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Mother’s Day is the movie equivalent of a bargain-bin greeting card, expressing only the most superficial, generic sentiments.

Two stars

Mother's Day Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis. Directed by Garry Marshall. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday citywide.

When Valentine’s Day was released in 2010, critics joked that director Garry Marshall was setting up a whole franchise of holiday-themed ensemble romantic comedies. But with the release of Mother’s Day, Marshall’s third holiday-themed ensemble romantic comedy, it becomes clear that the joke’s on us. Even though 2011’s New Year’s Eve was a box-office disappointment, Marshall has persevered, working with new writers and a new studio on the somewhat scaled-back Mother’s Day.

Instead of a dozen or so stories set around the central holiday, Mother’s Day features only four, with characters played by Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, Britt Robertson, Julia Roberts and others. Given more room, the individual stories only strain under their flimsy premises, and the actors all put forth the minimum possible effort. The jokes are beyond stale (Sudeikis’ single dad is embarrassed to buy his daughter tampons!), the dialogue is full of repetitive exposition, the plot mechanics are clumsy, and the aesthetic is somewhere around the level of a Disney Channel sitcom. Like its predecessors, Mother’s Day is the movie equivalent of a bargain-bin greeting card, expressing only the most superficial, generic sentiments. To joke about future installments at this point would only be courting disaster.

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