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'Mother's Day': Star-studded cast wasted in a dud

What hath the character-packed Love, Actually wrought?

What hath the character-packed Love, Actually wrought?

By my count, the top-billed female cast of Mother's Day includes one Oscar winner, one Oscar nominee, two Emmy winners, a Tony nominee, and a number of Golden Globes awardees.

And, yet, they're stuck in Mother's Day, a piece of schlock from Garry Marshall, who used to be a great romantic-comedy director, but has favored these vignette-style movies based around Hallmark holidays - Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve - as of late.

Stars whom Marshall subjects to the vignette treatment this time around are old favorites from his past work - Julia Roberts, Hector Elizondo, and Kate Hudson - and newbies Jennifer Aniston, Under the Dome's Britt Robertson, Jason Sudeikis, and Margo Martindale.

These movies have vaguely the same formula: Pretty white people connected by a theme - guess this one! - experience relatively minor problems that bring them into each other's orbits.

I could go through the mothering plots for each of the main characters, played by Aniston, Hudson, Roberts, Robertson, and Sudeikis. (It wouldn't be Hollywood if a man couldn't shoehorn his way into a holiday dedicated to women.) But the story is convoluted and unengaging.

The problem with this type of movie is ingrained in the structure: There's so much going on that there's no time to build characters that make sense or any sort of meaningful relationships.

It's Aniston I feel the worst for here. She's reduced to a harried divorcée who is supposed to be quirky and instead comes off as totally insane. The only thing that saves her character is Aniston's natural charisma. The same could be said for Hudson and Roberts. These women are so incredibly watchable, yet Mother's Day remains so entirely not.

It's even sadder to think that these women - so talented, so naturally effervescent on screen - aren't starring in superhero movies or toplining dramas by themselves. (At least Roberts shares top billing with George Clooney next month in Money Monster).

I'll watch Roberts be luminescent in something as terrible as Mother's Day if that's what is available, but I wish she had more good things to do.

Mother's Day

Directed by Garry Marshall. With Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, Britt Robertson, Jason Sudeikis. Distributed by Open Road Films.

Running time: 1 hour, 58 mins.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (language).

Playing at: Area theaters.