It would be almost too easy to say that Crappy Mother’s Day is a Crappy Mother’s Movie. But that’s just not the case. While definitely rough around the edges and not quite as polished as it might’ve been had it been made by more seasoned professionals, it is a sweetly innocuous reminder that, for better or worse, home is where the heart is.
Sarah (Kristen Krak) and James (Addison Anderson) are young, in love, and newly engaged. While the two are enjoying coffee one day at a suitably Brooklyn café, Sarah runs into her estranged mother, Totie (Jackie Debatin), who has just returned from living in Amsterdam. Furthermore, Sarah, hoping to spare James the sheer embarrassment of a woman whose parental instinct can generously be described as immature (she left Amsterdam because it was too easy to get high), has led her fiancé to believe that Totie was dead!
“…arrive at grandma’s house for…an awkward but relatively painless afternoon. How wrong they are!”
Casually mentioning that the next day is Mother’s Day, Totie suggests to Sarah that she and James stop over at the house of Sarah’s grandmother, Dorothy (Vivien Landau), for a little family gathering before Totie and her fiancé, Dimpy (screenwriter Bill Rutkoski), head off to Las Vegas. Dimpy is the sort of the dimestore philosopher that spouts wisdom such as, “sleep is like death without the side effects.” These are the sorts of folks Crappy Mother’s Day has on offer. Sarah preps James, and the two arrive at grandma’s house for what they hope will be, at best, an awkward but relatively painless afternoon. How wrong they are!
Crappy Mother’s Day belongs to a long tradition of “prodigal child returns to the familial homestead for an uncomfortable but restorative reunion in which long-held and troublesome secrets are brought to light” films. Titles in this canon might consist of 1995’s Home for the Holidays and 2013’s August: Osage County. Typically, such stories involve a generally levelheaded but emotionally damaged protagonist and the family of wackadoos that surrounds them. Director Dan Karlok keeps to this template.