Garry Marshall and Jason Sudeikis on the set of Mother’s Day
Veteran director Garry Marshall has a prolific catalogue of beloved work – from his TV career working on such classics including The Odd Couple, Mork & Mindy and Happy Days to his film career directing iconic movies including Overboard, Beaches, The Princess Diaries and his most enduring Pretty Woman which launched the career of Julia Roberts. Marshall and Roberts reteam for his latest film Mother’s Day which follows a similar structure and basis to his two previous holiday love stories Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Day.
“On most holidays, I think people have trouble dealing with what you’re ‘supposed to do’,” says Marshall. “Valentine’s Day you’re supposed to be in love with somebody and do something nice, and New Year’s Eve you’re supposed to have a date and have somebody to kiss at midnight. Mother’s Day you gotta get your mother the right present, so it’s always some anxiety on every holiday except possibly Arbor Day which I couldn’t make funny because I didn’t know how to make trees funny.”
The critical backlash against Mother’s Day and other ensemble films of this ilk doesn’t phase the optimistic director who sets out to make positive films rather than to please the critics. “The critics have not been so good to that style – Love Actually was one of my favourites of that style and that got bad reviews and we get bad reviews. But the picture goes on, it still survives and does very well,” he states. “I’ve never been perfect with critics. I used to be criticized by critics who died and now their kids are criticizing me – it’s the next generation. It all stays fine and I just love making movies.”
While the backdrop to the story of Mother’s Day may be the holiday itself, the film is quintessentially about parents raising kids in today’s social climate. “I wanted to do something about mothers which is always one of my favourite subjects,” explains Marshall. “People with difficulty raising kids today is quite a problem. And with everything going on with women, men, jobs, etc., it’s more hectic. And I wanted to do something about my mother – not about her, but as a salute to her. So, that was more than the holiday. But it turned out to be a holiday, what can I tell you.”
Marshall believes that his own mother would have been a fan of Mother’s Day, “Oh, I think she would like it. She likes Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts. And they act very honest, and my mother never did like people flying around, or big explosions, so I think she would’ve liked the story and the nice picture.”
Speaking of Roberts, Marshall describes their working relationship which goes back to before 1990 when they made Pretty Woman. “We started in Pretty Woman, she was 19 I don’t know how old I was. But now I have 6 grandchildren and she has 3 kids. The main difference is she also has a cellphone,” he jokes.
Speaking with the director, it’s obvious how much he loves to work and always has. “I always have a nice time, I try to make it fun. I have an open set which means you can bring your family and relatives can visit,” he says about the making of his films. The fact that he makes films for the pure enjoyment of it strongly comes across throughout our chat. For the amount of years that Marshall has spent in Hollywood, he is surprisingly uncynical and still passionate. When asking him to describe himself in one word, “I think nice,” he says. “I always try to be nice and see what people, you know, what makes people happy. Or positive I must say. People say I should be more negative in my work, I don’t look at life like that.”
And positive he is. While critics may not be on board for Mother’s Day, there is no doubt that this feelgood film was made with the greatest intentions, falling in line with Marshall’s enduring directorial legacy.
Mother’s Day is released in UK cinemas on June 10th, 2016