Kernel Rating (out of 5): 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 118 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 12+. The film follows different characters struggling with being mothers and daughters around the Mother’s Day holiday. There is some cursing and jokes about drugs, genitalia, strippers, and prostitution, some disparaging talk about younger/skinnier women, a woman wearing a skimpy bikini, women taking pole-dancing classes, a subplot involving a teenage pregnancy, an off-screen character death, a young child having a severe asthma attack, and a surprising amount of racism and homophobia, including some racial slurs about Middle Easterners and disparaging comments about people’s skin color.
Want some racism and sexism with your holiday celebration? The repellent ‘Mother’s Day’ has a surprising, distasteful, and shameful amount of both.
By Roxana Hadadi
Everyone involved with “Mother’s Day” should be embarrassed. It’s rare that a movie serves up sexism, racism, and classism with so many A-list actors, and yet here we are! Resist the seemingly harmless but actually insidiously offensive “Mother’s Day” with every fiber of your being. It is garbage.
Here are some of the things that happen in “Mother’s Day,” and they are all varying degrees of terrible. The movie is set in Atlanta, a heavily African-American community, but all of the main characters are rich white women, only one of whom seems to work. The one who does work complains about being poor, but has a humongous house, a fancy SUV, and clearly expensive workout clothes. She embarrasses herself fully at a job interview by showing up late, making a giant scene, and insulting her potential employer, but somehow gets the job anyway, because of course she does. The others who do not work are also rich, because of course they are.
One of their husbands is a wealthy Indian-American doctor, who is called a “towelhead” and “houseboy” by his racist father-in-law, and who is assumed to be a terrorist by police officers, who only let him go when the white people he’s with claim him as their own. He has his own overbearing mother, who brushes off awful things people say about their ethnicity with lines like “I don’t get that joke, but it sounds racist and funny,” because sometimes being a bigot is OK, apparently.
All of the women are mothers, but their relationships with their children are barely examined. The one woman who is the most successful is asked numerous times by strangers whether she has children, and her response is always about her “career,” because seemingly the only explanation for not having children is because of your job, not because it wasn’t the right choice for you. When she’s finally in contact with a baby, she automatically loves it, even implying that she might kidnap it, because the natural instinct of all women is to adore children to the point of criminal activity.
A “mother knows,” you see, more than any other kind of woman, and that’s why we have Mother’s Day as a holiday—and unfortunately also why we have “Mother’s Day” as a movie.
This list of grievances is not, in any way, meant to be a diatribe against motherhood or intended to question the validity of examining mother/child relationships in film. There are countless movies that tackle these subjects with nuance, subtlety, and honesty, and without sexism, racism, or classism. There’s this week’s “The Meddler”—what you should actually take your mom to see for the holiday—or last year’s horror comedy “The Final Girls,” the underrated Meryl Streep-starring “Ricki and the Flash,” or even the animated Studio Ghibli films “When Marnie Was There” or “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.” Rent or stream any of those instead, and you’ll be better off.
All of those superior films consider the responsibilities, joys, and hardships of being a mother, but with actual skill and thought, not the shoddy, disheartening way that “Mother’s Day” tackles the subject. Characters in this abomination of a movie ask each other over and over again “What are your plans for Mother’s Day?”—seeing this film should absolutely not be one of them.
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