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Review: ‘Mother Of The Bride’ – Brooke Shields Stars In Average Netflix Romance

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Despite past experiences usually urging caution, there are still certain indicators that might lead one to optimistically hope that a new Netflix comedy could offer more than just a background distraction while attending to chores. A prominent figure, a seasoned writer, a skilled director with genuine studio experience, or perhaps substantive source material – anything to suggest we’re not delving into the realm of cheesy, Hallmark-like productions.

Occasionally, this hopeful thinking proves fruitful – as seen with movies like 2019’s Let It Snow, based on a solid YA novel, or 2021’s Moxie, featuring Amy Poehler both in front of and behind the camera. However, more often than not, these markers make little difference.

This year, for Mother’s Day in the US, Netflix presents Mother of the Bride, a light-hearted comedy helmed by director Mark Waters, known for his work on indie gems like The House of Yes and mainstream hits like Mean Girls and Freaky Friday. Initially, this may spark a glimmer of optimism. Yet, once the excitement fades, we’re left with more of the same unremarkable mediocrity – sugar without salt, calories without substance.

The giveaway lies not in the director’s chair but in the screenwriter’s domain, with Robin Bernheim, a veteran of Hallmark and Lifetime productions, penning the script. With a resume that includes The Princess Switch movies, the writing is predictably formulaic, entrenched in sitcom clichés and lacking in innovation.

The titular mother, Lana, epitomizes the overbearing, nearly obsessive parent, fixated on her daughter’s future and anxious about any deviations from her meticulously planned trajectory. Portrayed by Brooke Shields, Lana continues her collaboration with Netflix following her underwhelming performance in a Christmas movie in 2021, while Miranda Cosgrove, known for her role in iCarly, stars as her daughter Emma.

When Emma announces her impromptu engagement, Lana is aghast. Matters escalate when she travels to Phuket for the wedding and encounters the groom’s father, her former college flame Will (played by the mostly shirtless Benjamin Bratt), who abruptly vanished from her life years ago.

Despite her professional prowess as a laboratory manager, Lana devolves into a bumbling mess in front of her ex and a charming doctor, portrayed by the also mostly shirtless Chad Michael Murray, also present at the resort.

The narrative teeters between an atypical love triangle comedy, a mother-daughter saga about excessive attachment, and a reflection on men maintaining their physique into middle age (Wilson Cruz’s character, Bratt’s brother, also flaunts his abs sans shirt). While Shields and Bratt navigate the trite dialogue with professionalism, injecting moments of potential poignancy, Cosgrove’s performance feels somewhat constrained by her exaggerated Nickelodeon persona.

The script’s attempts to resonate with contemporary audiences fall flat, particularly with Cosgrove’s character portrayed as an influencer using her wedding for sponsored content to boost her online following. Ultimately, the film’s lessons about family and forgiveness pale in comparison to its picturesque backdrop, adding a veneer of glamour to an otherwise pedestrian narrative.

While Mother of the Bride manages to evade the depths of cinematic mediocrity, it falls short of deserving full attention. So, feel free to multitask – this film will suffice as background noise while you tend to your errands.

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