#TBT Review: ‘MOTHER’S DAY’, The On-Screen Mothers We Love to Love


IMG_2988Mothers. Everybody has got them, and for better or worse, we all love them. While they can sometimes call you at the most inconvenient moments, they can also show up like Batman with a cup of chicken noodle soup and a warm blanket when you least expect it.

These women have been honored in films for many years and they have come in many iterations, from the sweet and loving, to the kind that freak out over the sight of a wire hanger.

This week, Gary Marshall’s latest, MOTHER’S DAY, opens nationwide. And for those who’ve seen VALENTINE’S DAY and/or NEW YEAR’S EVE, you know exactly what you’re getting. So far, it hasn’t been received all too well, but at least you get an eclectic bunch of famous faces doing ultra adorable things– And this time, those random acts of kindness will be devoted to the ones we love the most…mom.

Just like those random assortment of faces, we’re bringing you a few of our favorite on-screen mothers.

Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine)

Shirley MacLaine is a winning mom. Literally. She took home the Academy Award for her portrayal of Aurora Greenway, an incredibly protective mother whose soul reason to live seems to be making sure her daughter Emma (Debra Winger) has what’s best for her, whether she likes it or not.

Just watch the clip above. It’ll bring back fond memories of watching TERMS OF ENDEARMENT for the first time. Even when it occasionally comes on cable, I often find myself drawn in emotionally and reaching for a box of tissues.

The mother-daughter relationship rings so true and the chemistry between MacLaine and Winger is palpable. It’s one of the greats that should be required viewing for all mothers and daughters.
– Preston Barta

2. 50/50 (2011)
Diane (Angelica Huston)

Angelica Huston unfortunately didn’t receive awards recognition for her role as an overly concerned mother in the 2011 film 50/50. The comedy chronicles the life of a 27 year old everyman played by Joesph Gordon Levitt who contracts cancer that provides him a 50/50 chance of survival.

Now, Huston has played quirky roles in her past, but this is about as authentic as it gets. On the surface she appears to be nagging her son about his ailment as they both try to navigate the treacherous waters (somewhat) together. It’s easy to take for granted the ones we love in times of turmoil, yet Huston gets every inch of spotlight without ever calling attention to herself with a showy performance.

This is a film that taps into humanity unlike any film has this decade. Huston’s performance is in an elite status that any son or daughter would be happy to call mom.
– James Cole Clay

3. MOTHER (1996)
Beatrice Henderson (Debbie Reynolds)

John Henderson (Albert Brooks) is a sci-fi writer who is unlucky in love. In fact, he’s been divorced twice, in large part due to his neuroticism. While stewing in his emotional funk, John decides that the only way to turn around his love troubles is to move back in with his mother, Beatrice (Debbie Reynolds), and work out the issues he believes exists in their relationship. While John and Beatrice do have this unspoken tension in their relationship, there is never question that they don’t love each other.

Encapsulated by Brooks’ trademark dry wit, MOTHER never uses the consummate tropes in order to feed its story. The main journey is about two personalities so much alike that John can’t figure out why they don’t get along. A lot of it has to do with what Beatrice holds close to the vest, and when their breakthrough happens in the last act, it is earnest and somewhat of a toned-down eureka moment. It is one of the best comedies of the late 90s, punctuated by subtle laughs and excellent performances, especially by Reynolds.
– Jared McMillan

Honorable Mentions:

THE BLIND SIDE (2009), Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock); THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (2010), Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening); PLACES IN THE HEART (1983), Edna Spalding (Sally Field); TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991), Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton); and CROOKLYN (1994), Carolyn Carmichael (Alfre Woodard).

MOTHER’S DAY opens nationwide tomorrow.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.