Nearly Every Performance In A Garry Marshall Holiday Movie, Ranked By Effort

Mother's Day — the latest star-packed, holiday-themed extravaganza from director Garry Marshall — makes Valentine's Day and, heck, even New Year's Eve look good. The movie, which comes out today, is an orange-hued daydream out of an athleisure catalogue. It centers on four women (Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, and Britt Robertson) and one widower (Jason Sudeikis) as Mother's Day approaches. In this universe, people plan and fret about the occasion as if it were a religious holiday.

Mother's Day is not quite as stuffed with famous faces as the two preceding movies, but it compensates for its slight deficit of celebs with a lamer script, some casual racism, and shades of Nicholas Sparks. Not that Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve are Oscar-worthy movies. Those two are pretty blatant, fumbled attempts at some Love Actually magic.

But the guarantee of lukewarm reviews has not stopped A-list stars from signing on to a Marshall vehicle. Have you been on a hit TV show? Won an Oscar? Appeared on a People magazine cover? Yeah, you've probably partied with Marshall.

So to commemorate the completion — we hope — of this trilogy, we are ranking the performances of the stars in them. We are not, however, judging by quality. Instead, we're considering how much effort the actors put into their work in the movie (or whether he or she is just phoning it in). Click through to see how everyone fares. We kick off with those we think couldn't have cared less.


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Jon Bon Jovi, New Year's Eve
Playing a Bon Jovi-esque rock star really isn't much of a stretch for Bon Jovi.
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Photo: Gregory Pace/BEI/REX/Shutterstock.
Robert De Niro, New Year's Eve
De Niro has an excuse for being bedridden most of this movie — he's playing a dying man. But he's lying down on the job in more ways than one.
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Taylor Lautner, Valentine's Day
Working on your abs does not count as acting.
4 of 40
Jessica Alba, Valentine’s Day
To be fair, Alba is saddled with playing one of most thankless roles in the whole movie. She breaks Ashton Kutcher's heart, after all. But Alba doesn't make her character surprisingly sympathetic or supremely bitchy. She just makes her "meh."
5 of 40
Josh Duhamel, New Year’s Eve
A hunk shows up and plays...a hunk.
6 of 40
Timothy Olyphant, Mother's Day
A hunk shows off his hunky side next to a Pretty Little Liar.
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7 of 40
Eric Dane, Valentine’s Day
McSteamy has what could have been a meaty part, playing a football star who comes out as gay. Too bad he makes us want to fall asleep.
8 of 40
Patrick Dempsey, Valentine's Day
It’s obvious Dempsey is a cad from the moment he appears on screen. We might have liked to see some range.
9 of 40
Kate Hudson, Mother's Day
Does Kate Hudson ever play anyone who is not some variation of Kate Hudson these days? Sure, her character's backstory is a lot different than her own. Jesse, for instance, has lied to her racist parents about marrying an Indian man for years. (She also has lied to her husband about having racist parents.)
10 of 40
Ashton Kutcher, New Year’s Eve
After being surprisingly, bumblingly adorable in Valentine’s Day, Kutcher takes a major step backward in New Year’s Eve. He’s supposed to be playing an unmotivated guy, that doesn’t mean he actually needs to slack off.
11 of 40
Jamie Foxx, Valentine’s Day
Despite Foxx's natural sex appeal, it's hard to see why Jessica Biel's character falls for him — especially after he makes some terrible gay jokes.
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Jason Sudeikis, Mother’s Day
Sudeikis has successfully made the transition from Saturday Night Live regular to movie star, but this role does not do his career any favors. Sudeikis’ character is in mourning, so that somewhat excuses his stiff approach. Unfortunately, it's not very interesting. He also does a horrific karaoke rendition of "The Humpty Dance."
13 of 40
Topher Grace, Valentine’s Day
Remember when Topher Grace seemed to be everywhere? It’s easy to forget, like his somewhat bland performance as the guy trying to woo Anne Hathaway.
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Sarah Jessica Parker, New Year's Eve
In this movie, Sarah Jessica Parker somehow manages to rent a horse-drawn carriage to drive her to a deserted street in New York City on New Year's Eve. That alone is a feat. Otherwise, her part is mostly forgettable.
15 of 40
Jessica Biel & Seth Meyers, New Year's Eve
Biel gave more of herself to her Valentine's Day role — more on that later. You would think that playing a pregnant woman — as she does in New Year's Eve — would require more labor. To be honest, Meyers, who really is better at the Weekend Update desk, drags her down.
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Halle Berry, New Year's Eve
The Oscar-winner does have a big dramatic scene. Sadly, it's played opposite a computer.
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Photo: Courtesy of Open Road Films.
Shay Mitchell, Mother's Day
Save for one moment of panic toward the end of the movie, the Pretty Little Liar mostly just struts around in skimpy clothing.
18 of 40
Sofia Vergara, New Year's Eve
Sofia Vergara does her schtick. It's not like she's ever half-assing it, but it is pretty safe.
19 of 40
Julia Roberts & Bradley Cooper, Valentine’s Day
In an alternate universe, the plane interaction between Roberts and Cooper’s characters could have been a sweet duet. Instead, it's dull. Can one of you turn on the charm? We know you have it in spades!
20 of 40
Abigail Breslin, New Year's Eve
Though Breslin's rebellious character spends most of the movie making bratty faces, she actually gets an emotionally affecting moment toward the end. She runs into her mom's (Sarah Jessica Parker) arms after witnessing her crush kiss another girl. I've teared up watching it. Sue me.
21 of 40
Emma Roberts, Valentine’s Day
Roberts sells her awkward explanation of how she can’t help her teacher (Kristen Schaal) because she and her boyfriend are going to lose their virginities to each other at lunch. She definitely seems to be enjoying herself more than her aunt Julia in the movie.
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Hillary Swank, New Year's Eve
Million Dollar Baby
this is not. Swank seems, frankly, a little bored throughout this movie, and who can blame her? However, a lot of the plot does ride on her shoulders, given that she is tasked with making the Times Square ball drop.
23 of 40
George Lopez, Valentine’s Day
Lopez is mostly employed as comic relief, and his presence on screen in this movie is, well, a relief.
24 of 40
Hector Elizondo, Valentine’s Day, New Year's Eve & Mother's Day
It is law — we think — that Hector Elizondo must be in every Garry Marshall movie. Look, Elizondo’s not stretching his thespian muscles very far in any of these roles, but it’s totally comforting to watch him. Valentine's Day is the least flashy for him, as he's tasked with a sentimental story line. In New Year's Eve, he shows up with a kooky accent to fix the Times Square ball. Mother's Day contains the most bizarre Elizondo performance: He hams it up in the role of Lance, the agent to Julia Roberts’ HSN queen.
25 of 40
Shirley MacLaine, Valentine’s Day
MacLaine has one of the few dramatic moments in the movie, when her character tells her husband (Hector Elizondo) that she cheated on him. It's not her best work, but she plucks a few heartstrings.
26 of 40
Queen Latifah, Valentine’s Day
Queen's performance pretty much amounts to a cameo in Valentine's Day. But we want more of her. She has a grand old time when she takes over Liz’s job as phone sex operator. It sucks that she doesn't even get a romantic story line.
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27 of 40
Katherine Heigl, New Year’s Eve
When this movie came out in 2011, Heigl was grasping at the last of her rom-com star cred. She makes a valiant effort opposite the lackluster Bon Jovi, even as she dramatically utters the terrible line, “You walked out before I unpacked the first bag of groceries."
28 of 40
Jack Whitehall, Mother's Day
British comedian Jack Whitehall emerges from Mother's Day relatively unscathed. In fact, he's rather delightful to watch as a wannabe stand-up with a young child. If only he had a better vehicle to break out in the U.S.
29 of 40
Zac Efron, New Year’s Eve
Efron is sweetly exuberant playing a bike messenger who plans a day of fun for Michelle Pfeiffer's character. The two even have a nice chemistry, despite the outlandish nature of the story line. Also, he dances at the end. Who can resist Zefron dancing? Not us, certainly.
30 of 40
Ashton Kutcher, Valentine’s Day
Kutcher goes full puppy dog, as a florist who proposes to his girlfriend (Jessica Alba) and gets jilted all over the course of one day.
31 of 40
Aasif Mandvi, Mother's Day
The former Daily Show correspondent deserves so much better, but he treks through Mother's Day. Mandvi gets physical as the put-upon spouse of Kate Hudson's character. He even participates in that tired old site gag of a man in a woman's robe.
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Photo: Courtesy of Open Road Films.
Britt Robertson, Mother’s Day
Robertson gets saddled with the dopiest dialogue in a movie full of dopey dialogue. For instance, when discussing her reluctance to marry her longtime boyfriend/father of her child due to the fact that she was adopted, she says, “I have abandonment issues.” Cue the eye-rolling. But you can see Robertson trying to make the most of it, infusing her doe eyes with conflict.
33 of 40
Jessica Biel, Valentine’s Day
Biel is the least convincing hot mess, ever. But she tries her darndest here, taking prat falls and stuffing candy in her face. It's certainly more entertaining than her turn in New Year's Eve.
34 of 40
Lea Michele, New Year's Eve
Michele accomplishes a difficult task. She makes "Auld Lang Syne" sound like a hot pop ballad.
35 of 40
Julia Roberts, Mother's Day
Is Julia putting in the legwork here or is her wig? That geometric red thing on her head is so distracting, it's hard to tell. But a good deal of acting is actually required from Roberts here. Her Miranda Collins is alternately a perky HSN host, a dishy gossip, and a woman who was forced to give up her child. Okay, it's not Erin Brockovich-level work from Roberts, but it's still satisfying.
36 of 40
Taylor Swift, Valentine's Day
Okay, Taylor Swift is not the greatest actress. As an obnoxious teen she’s, well, obnoxious, and she seems to be constantly winking at the camera. She does give it her all, though, so we have to give her credit for that. She also wrote a song for the movie: “Today Was a Fairytale.” T.Swift was invested!
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Jennifer Aniston, Mother's Day
Aniston gives it her all. She arguably has the biggest role in Mother’s Day, playing an interior designer with two kids whose ex-husband marries a hottie (Shay Mitchell). She is filled with manic energy in the part, including one truly over-the-top freak-out. After learning that her husband is taking their children to Paris — where she has always wanted to go — she laugh-cries and rants in her car by herself. She also has to conduct a serious conversation with a party clown who doles out advice, which is surely an award-worthy acting challenge.
38 of 40
Michelle Pfeiffer, New Year's Eve
One of the few people in these movies actually cast against type, Pfeiffer transforms herself into a mousey woman attempting to complete some New Year’s resolutions with the help of a dashing young man (Zac Efron).
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Anne Hathaway, Valentine's Day
Does Hathaway ever doing anything halfway? No. And Valentine’s Day is proof. She employs a variety of wacky accents to play Liz, an assistant/phone sex operator.
40 of 40
Jennifer Garner, Valentine's Day
Garner has the biggest arc in this movie. When it starts, she's head over heels in love with her doctor boyfriend (Patrick Dempsey), then she's finds out he's actually married. That turns her into a vengeful, baseball bat-wielding piñata-destroyer. Finally, she ends up coupled with her BFF (Ashton Kutcher). There's a bit of everything we like about Garner here. She employs a dash of her 13 Going on 30 sweetness and a touch of her Alias badassery.
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