MOTHER’S DAY and KEANU – A DOUBLE FEATURE REVIEW BY HAYDEN PITTMAN

MOTHERS DAY

“Mother’s Day”

From the creator of “Valentine’s Day”, “New Year’s Eve”, and “Pretty Woman”, director Gary Marshall brings us “Mother’s Day”, a family fun film for all generations. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Britt Robertson, Jason Sudeikis, and Julia Roberts, “Mother’s Day” involves a group of seemingly unconnected women and shows the very different relationships they have with their respective families.

Popular review site Rotten Tomatoes gives “Mother’s Day” an 8% liking rating, and most critics have extremely bashed this film. But I took my dad to see it and sure enough, we both enjoyed it. While I’ll agree the characters and relationships are a bit forced and the story and dialogue needs work, there’s more than a fair amount of humor and life material that multiple generations of families can appreciate. If you’ve seen “Valentine’s Day” or “New Year’s Eve”, you may understand what I mean.

As Mother’s Day approaches, the film juxtaposes multiple characters lives and shows how very different families and mothers can be. Sandy (Aniston) is a divorced mother of two with an ex who has remarried a much younger woman, and Miranda (Roberts) is a workaholic and accomplished celebrity who gave up her child at birth, Kristen (Robertson), who is an unmarried mother herself.

Similarly, Jesse (Hudson) and her sister Gabi (Sarah Chalke) have both hidden their relationships (husband of a different race and child / homosexual partner, respectively) from their parents. But come this year’s Mother’s Day, all of these women’s families will come together with all their cards on the table.

This is the kind of film that has a somewhat weak story, forced stock characters, and a lot of cheesy dialogue and actions. But at the center of the film is a well-intentioned depiction of the many different types of family situations out there, as well as the importance of family and appreciating your parents, specifically mothers in this case.

While the lives of these characters may seem unconnected at first, it’s amusing to see the way they come together, be it a friendship, new romance, parent/child relationship, etc. The film is also not short on known supporting actors.

The majority of reviews may be calling this film misguided, uneven, a lack of effort and so on, and I won’t pretend it’s the greatest movie ever (or even more than an average one). But for someone looking for a movie that doesn’t center on sex, drugs, violence, action or over the top comedy, then this just may be the film for you. And perhaps it’s even a film you can take your mother too on her special weekend.

2 out of 5 stars.

“Mother’s Day is rated PG-13 for language and some suggestive material. Running time is 1 hour and 58 minutes. Also starring Timothy Olyphant, Jon Lovitz, Margo Martindale, Shay Mitchell, Jack Whitehall, Aasif Mandvi and more.

Keanu

“Keanu”

Also in theaters this weekend is comedic partners, Key & Peele’s first feature, “Keanu”, a film about a lost kitten and the life-threatening adventure that goes along with finding it. If you’ve seen Key & Peele’s sketch comedies that are reminiscent of a Saturday Night Live skit, then you’re probably familiar with their chemistry and style of humor. In “Keanu”, they take their comedy to a new level as they pretend to be violent gang members searching for their cat.

Rell (Jordan Peele) is a lazy, pot-smoking guy who is trying to get over a breakup when he finds a cute kitten on his doorstep, which he names Keanu. Shortly after finding the cat, someone breaks into Rell’s house and coincidentally steals Keanu. As a result, Rell enlists his well-spoken and nicely dressed married cousin, Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) to help him find his kitten. To do this, they must pose as hardcore street thugs to enter an organized crime and drug group who they believe knows the whereabouts of Keanu.

In typical comedic fashion in line with this film, the kitten is actually named after actor Keanu Reeves, who voices the cat during a short drug trip that Clarence experiences, which parodies “The Matrix. Apparently, while creating the idea for this film, the writers liked the named Keanu, but were hesitant at first about having Reeves voice the cat because of the similarity to his recent film, “John Wick”, which features a slight revenge story after his dog is killed. Either way, it’s an interesting parallel and Reeves was very intrigued and amused by the idea.

As far as the film goes, Key & Peele bring their long established chemistry to their roles and are able to present and execute some hit and miss comedy, but overall this film is extremely over the top, outrageous and pure ridiculousness. Rell and Clarence’s street names become Tectonic and Shark Tank, respectively. At one point Rell makes a kitten calendar by dressing Keanu up to parody various Hollywood films, and there is more than enough jokes about pop culture, movies/music, race, rap, and drug stereotypes, sexual, vulgar and offensive material, and generally exaggerated dialogue. 

I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this film is one of the best comedies in years as the reviews suggest, but I do agree there is a good amount of humor present. Too many comedies nowadays are way over the top, yet are referred to as comedic gold and some of the best material we’ve apparently ever seen. All the marketing and trailer gimmicks aside, “Keanu” is funny, and I look forward to seeing what else Key & Peele can come up with.

In my other review of this film on WFAA.com, I compared “Keanu” to “Key & Peele” meets “Pineapple Express” meets “Harold and Kumar”, as this comedy duo is given free range to explore just about every sort of joke they can think up, some of which work and some which don’t. Either way, you’d be crazy not to find some humor in the film, regardless of how absurd or over the top it becomes. 

2.5 out of 5 stars.

“Keanu” is rated R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity. Running time is 1 hour and 38 minutes. Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Method Man, Will Forte, and Luis Guzman.

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