‘Mother of the Bride’ (2024) Review: Hallmark Movie Vibes

Nuha Hassan
4 min readMay 10, 2024

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Miranda Cosgrove and Brooke Shields as Emma and Lana. Image courtesy of Netflix.

All I could think about while watching this film was how similar it was to a Hallmark movie. Mark Waters, who previously directed Freaky Friday, Mean Girls and Netflix’s remake of He’s All That, returns to the tudum streaming platform with Mother of the Bride. Hallmark alum Robin Bernheim writes the movie, so I wasn’t entirely far off when I made my initial judgement.

Mother of the Bride follows a mother travelling to her daughter’s destination slash influencer wedding only to reunite with her ex-lover from college. While the film has some interesting themes of second chances and toxic social media influence culture, there is nothing remarkable about it.

Immediately after getting engaged, Emma (Miranda Cosgrove) returns to San Francisco to drop the news to her overbearing, borderline-obsessive mother, Lana (Brooke Shields), a successful scientist specialising in genetic research. Emma tells her mother, who is already shocked by the wedding news, that she is not getting a job or attending grad school. Instead, she will become an influencer for a company. The wedding will be hosted in a luxury resort in Phuket, Thailand, as she is now the brand ambassador for the resort.

After losing the battle to change Emma’s mind, Lana arrives at the resort and meets her future son-in-law, RJ (Sean Teale). She reunites with her sister, Janice (Rachael Harris), and her old college buddies, Clay (Michael McDonald) and Scott (Wilson Cruz). But the most unexpected reunion is RJ’s father, Will (Benjamin Bratt), Lana’s ex-boyfriend from college who ghosted her 30 years ago. It turns out that Lana and Will still have some unresolved issues from the past, but Emma asks her to be on her best behaviour. Will and Lana battle against each other to compete for Emma and RJ’s attention by giving them expensive gifts and following a strict schedule to ensure everything is perfect for the wedding.

Brooke Shields and Benjamin Bratt as Lana and Will. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Mother of the Bride is underdeveloped with a somewhat bold commentary on the commodification of people’s lives, which scratches the surface level. I barely know anything about RJ’s backstory and why his dad is a multi-millionaire with a condo in Tribeca. The film, at least in the beginning, introduces RJ who lives in London, meets Emma and falls in love with her. After that, there isn’t much we get to learn about RJ as a character. Why do Emma and RJ want to get married? We don’t know that yet. It seemed like an incredibly rushed wedding for absolutely one reason: A sponsored destination wedding at the resort to garner more attention on Emma’s social media platforms. I was convinced these two would finally see the light and break up because they didn’t like each other. But no, it gets worse.

If there is such a thing as conflicts in film, Mother of the Bride doesn’t have that. Well, it does. But it’s so silly that it’s written as if Emma is always annoyed by RJ’s actions. He doesn’t like it when he constantly asks to high-five or fist bump. She doesn’t like it when he’s having fun at photoshoots with her. Why are they getting married again? Do they even like each other? Emma doesn’t even like it when Lana and her friends are skinny dipping at the beach. She doesn’t want the weddings to have any negative press so any spontaneous adventures will upset the resort and the company. This film seems like a misguided and underdeveloped story with too many plot holes and characters that only exist for exposition.

Benjamin Bratt as Will. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Also, other characters are simply there for the vibes. Janice, Lana’s sister, is there for comedic purposes and encourages her sister to have drinks with Lucas (Chad Michael Murray), the heartthrob doctor aka “Hemsworth hottie.” His first screen appearance is shirtless and prying for Lana’s attention. I found it incredibly ridiculous that a scientist with her own lab could get nervous around him. This same thing happens when she reunites with Will after a long time. They both stumble into a pond together, accidentally of course. But every time they are on screen she cannot hold herself together. Lana, stand up! Then there’s Clay and Scott, the gay married couple who only appear on screen to be sassy and for exposition purposes. Just like RJ, I knew little to nothing about what they do and who they are, apart from the fact that they were college mates with Janice and Lana.

Mother of the Bride is an empty, underdeveloped destination wedding movie that provides a vapid conversation on commodifying people’s lives. It’s a rushed work that could have spent time creating characters with interesting backstories. Instead, the film provides a destination wedding setting with characters who have an obscene amount of wealth and privilege but refuse to look beyond the social media presence. While Shields and Bratt incorporate physical comedy into their performances and have incredible chemistry, there’s nothing special about it. Mother of the Bride has many annoying moments, and you can do so much more than watch this shallow film.

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