Mother of the Bride (2024)

Mother of the Bride Review

Mother of the Bride

Initial release: May 9, 2024
Director: Mark Waters
Distributed by: Netflix
Music by: Caroline Ho
Production companies: Motion Picture Corporation of America; Living Films

The only thing I could think while watching this movie was that it looked like a Hallmark movie. Mark Waters, who directed Freaky Friday, Mean Girls and Netflix’s He’s All That remake in the past, is back on tudum with Mother of the Bride. The screenplay for this film was written by Robin Bernheim, a Hallmark alumnus, so I wasn’t actually that far off with my initial assumption.

Mother of the Bride follows a mother who flies across the world to attend her daughter’s destination wedding-slash-influencer campaign and ends up meeting her ex-boyfriend from college there. It has some interesting themes about second chances and toxic social media influence culture but ultimately falls short.

Right after getting engaged, Emma (Miranda Cosgrove) comes back to San Francisco to tell her overbearing scientist mom Lana (Brooke Shields), who specializes in genetic research already shocked by the wedding news that she isn’t taking a job or going to grad school; instead, she’ll be an influencer for a company. And since it turns out that the resort where Emma will be hosting her wedding is also where she’s become brand ambassador slash sponsored influencer for life so now she has to get married there too which means she can never leave.

After they realize they can’t change each other’s minds, Lana shows up at the resort and meets RJ (Sean Teale), her future son-in-law; reunites with sister Janice (Rachael Harris) and old college buddies Clay (Michael McDonald) and Scott (Wilson Cruz); but most importantly runs into Will (Benjamin Bratt), RJ’s dad & Lana’s ex-boyfriend from college who ghosted her 30 years ago. Turns out they still have some unresolved issues but since today is not about them per se then fine just be good m’kay yes ma’am whatever you say yes dear okay sure no problem. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop Will and Lana from competing for Emma and RJ’s attention by giving them expensive gifts and following a strict schedule to ensure everything goes perfectly at the wedding.

Mother of the Bride is a little too underdeveloped for my taste with its somewhat bold commentary on commodification of people’s lives happening only on a surface level. I know barely anything about RJ or why his dad is a multi-millionaire with a condo in Tribeca (let alone what any of that means), but the film introduces him as this dude who lives in London, meets Emma and falls in love with her then after that we don’t really get to know anything else about him as a character? Also why do Emma and RJ want to get married? I don’t know yet. It seemed like an extremely rushed wedding for absolutely one reason: A sponsored destination wedding at the resort to garner more attention on Emma’s social media platforms. These two didn’t even like each other, so I thought they would finally see the light and break up but no it gets worse.

If there are any conflicts in a movie, Mother of the Bride doesn’t have them. Well, it does. But they’re so dumb it’s like Emma is always irritated by RJ’s actions. He doesn’t like when he asks for a high-five or fist bump every five seconds. She doesn’t like when he has fun at photoshoots with her. Why are they getting married again? Do they even know each other? Emma also doesn’t appreciate it when Lana and her friends go skinny dipping on the beach. She doesn’t want any negative press for the weddings so any spontaneous adventures will upset the resort and the company. This movie feels like an ill-conceived and half-baked story with too many plot holes and characters whose only purpose is to provide exposition.

Also, other characters are just there for the vibes. Janice, Lana’s sister, is there for comedic relief and to encourage her sister to have drinks with Lucas (Chad Michael Murray), the heartthrob doctor aka “Hemsworth hottie.” His first appearance on screen is shirtless and trying to get Lana’s attention. I found it absolutely ridiculous that a scientist with her own lab could be nervous around him. The same thing happens when she reunites with Will after a long time away; they both stumble into a pond together, accidentally of course, but she can’t keep herself together whenever they’re on screen together. Stand up, Lana! Then there’s Clay and Scott, the gay married couple who are only on screen to be sassy and provide exposition about themselves much like RJ, I had no idea what they do or who they are beyond that they were college buddies of Janice and Lana’s.

Mother of the Bride is an empty destination wedding movie that commodifies people’s lives without saying anything interesting about love or marriage itself though given its title and premise, that’s hardly surprising news. It’s a rushed work that could have taken the time to create characters with interesting backstories, but instead it provides a destination wedding setting populated by characters who have an obscene amount of wealth and privilege yet refuse to look beyond the social media presence. And while Shields and Bratt incorporate physical comedy into their performances and have great chemistry together, there’s nothing particularly special about any of it. Mother of the Bride is annoying in so many moments throughout, and you could do much worse than skip this shallow film.

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