15 movies to watch with your mom for Mother's Day
Your mom deserves some quality time.
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Forget flowers. Celebrate this Mother's Day with a good movie.
As much as we all scramble to get the best gift for our moms on Mother's Day, some moms prefer just to spend a little quality time with their children. And what better way to spend quality time than to pop some popcorn and sit down for a good movie.
Movies about mothers and motherhood are as universal as water or air. And Hollywood has put out a ton of films that center around people and their moms. There are funny comedies, tear-jerking dramas, and storylines that hit on the complicated and beautiful relationships that mothers and their kids have.
We've rounded up some of the best "mom movies" out there so you and your mother can have a good laugh (or a good cry).
1. Mamma Mia! (2008)
Trust us, there's literally no better movie on Mother's Day than one that involves singing, dancing, and a beautiful, heartfelt relationship between mother and daughter. Plus, your mom can sing along –– because, of course, she knows every ABBA song by heart.
If you don't already know, Mamma Mia! centers around Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), whose mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), runs a hotel in Greece. Upon her boyfriend's proposal, Sophie sets out on finding her birth-father by sending three letters to three men her mother once had fleeting romances with.
And since you're spending some quality time with mom, why not make your movie night a double-feature? In addition to Mamma Mia!, you can also enjoy the sequel, subtitled Here We Go Again, which centers on Donna's "origin story." Both movies are fun, light, nostalgic, and a little campy.
2. The Joy Luck Club (1993)
This movie has plenty of funny moments, as well as heartwrenching ones that will give you and your mom a truly satisfying experience. And maybe a good cry.
The Joy Luck Club is an adaptation of Amy Tan's book of the same name. The film centers around four Chinese women who are recent immigrants to San Francisco, and their American daughters, as they reflect on their storied pasts. The storylines are intertwined vignettes, telling tales of personal tragedies and triumphs.
The film can certainly squeeze tears from your eyes, but there are also many heartwarming and powerful moments. Don't be surprised if you feel the urge to give your mom a big hug by the end.
3. Mermaids (1990)
Cher makes every Mother's Day special, in our opinion.
Mermaids was made just two years after Cher's Oscar win for Moonstruck so you might say she was really killing it in Hollywood at the time. The film is told from the point of view of a teenaged girl (Winona Ryder) who has become obsessed with strict Catholic beliefs. Naturally, that puts her at odds with her mother (Cher), a single mom who dates around and moves her children to a new town after every failed romance.
Both Ryder and Cher put out brilliant performances –– also, not to mention Christina Ricci, who plays Ryder's little sister who loves swimming more than anything in the world. The movie is hilarious and heartfelt all at the same time.
4. Steel Magnolias (1989)
Try to think of a performance more iconic than Sally Field at the end of Steel Magnolias. We'll wait.
Sure, the end of this film can be kind of a cry-fest, but there are so many heartwarming and funny moments throughout, you and your mom are sure to be quoting it for years to come.
The movie tells the story of six women in a small town in Louisiana. It opens on Annelle (Daryl Hannah), a young beautician who finds work at a local salon run by a woman named Trucy (played by none other than Dolly Parton). Customers of the salon include the crotchety Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine), Clairee (Olympia Dukakis), M'Lynn (Sally Field), and M'Lynn's daughter Shelby (Julia Roberts).
We won't spoil the movie for you if you haven't seen it but be prepared with a box of tissues for the end of this film.
5. Brave (2012)
Mother's Day is the perfect time for a Disney flick.
Instead of focusing on a princess waiting for her elusive prince, Brave is a princess movie without a romantic storyline. Instead, it examines the relationship between a conventional mother and her rebellious daughter. Sound familiar?
Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a Scottish princess determined to make her own path in life. After being granted one wish by a witch, Merida accidentally turns her mother (voiced by Emma Thompson) into a bear. Oops.
Like many other Disney movies, it's got plenty of laughs and adventure, as well as a sweet message about mothers and daughters.
6. Because I Said So (2007)
This movie has such a packed cast of beloved Hollywood actresses, it's perfect for you and your mom to sit down and have a good, hearty laugh.
Because I Said So is about Daphne (Diane Keaton), who's the loving but overbearing mother of Maggie (Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham), Mae (Piper Perabo), and Milly (Mandy Moore). While Maggie and Mae are both happily married, Daphne becomes increasingly concerned (and meddling) about Milly, who recently broke up with a boyfriend.
Sure, the film maybe focuses a little too much on women needing to be in relationships to be happy, but the complicated, loving, and hilarious performances by all four of these actresses make for a satisfying comedy that your mom will love.
7. Little Women (1994 and 2019)
If you or your mom are a big fan of Louisa May Alcott's beloved novel, there's no better double feature out there.
Many people look fondly on the 1994 release of Little Women. Maybe it's because it's packed with three of America's Sweethearts the '90s (Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, and Claire Danes), or maybe it's because we can't imagine anyone other than Christian Bale perfectly embodying Laurie, but this instant classic has stuck with a lot of people over the years.
At the same time, Greta Gerwig's 2019 reimagining of the classic story is definitely worth a watch too. Although it's structured a little differently from past adaptations, our favorite scenes and characters remain just as loveable (or hateable) as ever. So don't think of it as rewatching the same movie twice. Think of it as appreciating creativity in filmmaking.
8. Dumplin' (2018)
Yet another complicated mother-child relationship makes the list, but it's also just a funny and heartwarming story.
Netflix's feature film Dumplin' is based on a young adult novel of the same name, which centers around a plus-sized girl named Willowdean, nicknamed Dumplin' (Danielle Macdonald), who enters her mother's beauty pageant as a form of protest. Several "unconventional" entrants follow in Dumplin's footsteps, changing the pageant and the sleepy Texas town where they live.
Throughout the film, Dumplin' and her former beauty queen mother learn to understand each other a little better. And Willowdean has her first summer romance on the way.
9. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
On one level, Crazy Rich Asians is a love story between a woman and her very charming boyfriend. On the other, it's a story about acceptance and respect across cultural, economical, and familial lines, so it's just as much a mother-child relationship movie as it is a romantic comedy.
Constance Wu plays a young, Chinese American economics professor, Rachel, who is deeply in love with her adorable boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding). Upon learning that Nick is actually some sort of super-rich real estate heir, Rachel is put under pressure when Nick tells her that he needs to fly to Singapore for his best friend's wedding—and she's invited to come and meet his entire family too.
Beyond the story of a woman trying to impress her severe mother-in-law, it's also a tale of Rachel and her own mom, who left China to bring her to America for a better life.
Not to mention, this whole movie has hilarious moments throughout, so it's a great feel-good movie.
10. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2017)
If you're a huge fan of Carrie Fisher, you can't go wrong with the documentary Bright Lights.
Unlike Postcards from the Edge, which was more of a biopic, Bright Lights focuses on Fisher's relationship with her famous mother, Debbie Reynolds. So, a natural choice for Mother's Day.
While their relationship has never been perfect, the two have a special bond that makes this film bittersweet, resilient, unique, and ultimately very close. If you and your mom are documentary fans, it's a must-watch.
11. Gypsy (1962)
You can choose between this original film starring Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood, or even opt for the TV movie starring Bette Midler and Cynthia Gibb. It's dealer's choice, because either adaptation is amazing.
True, Russell doesn't have Midler's pipes, but her performance is just as iconic. The film/musical revolves around an overbearing stage mother, Rose, and her performer daughters June and Louise (who is played by Wood). The story itself is semi-biographical, taken from the life of the famous burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee. Lee's account of her life, some say, was often embellished, but it made for an excellent movie all the time.
Aside from Russell, Natalie Wood puts out one of her best performances as the shy Louise.
12. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)
Ellen Burstyn is well known for her "motherly" roles, but this one is a little less gruesome than her part in The Excorist.
Instead, Burstyn stars as a recent widow who travels with her preteen son across the American Southwest, seeking a new life and work wherever she can find it in order to support herself and her son. Along the way, she meets a handsome local rancher (Kris Kristofferson) and falls in love.
It's a great watch for your mom, particularly if she's a movie lover, because it's also directed by Martin Scorsese. It's a very different tone from Goodfellas, to say the least.
13. Heartbreakers (2001)
There are movies that will make you cry, there are movies to scare you out of your wits, and then there are movies that are just enjoyable and easy to laugh with.
Heartbreakers revolves around a special kind of mother-daughter relationship. One that focuses less on family dynamics and heartwarming plotlines, and more on conning wealthy men out of their money. Talk about quality time.
Sigourney Weaver plays a mom who's made her living on swindling rich guys. When her daughter and accomplice, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, announces that she'd like to go solo, the two women get together for "one last job" of getting men to propose marriage and then entrapping the men into cheating on their new brides. It's a funny and sometimes ridiculous crime comedy that has a lot of absurd moments that you and your mom and laugh together at. Or maybe give you ideas about starting up your own crime scheme.
14. Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird is about female friendships in general, including the relationship between a mother and her rebellious daughter.
Saoirse Ronan plays Christine, who prefers to be called "Lady Bird," a woman who grapples with her desire to go to a prestigious college clear across the country from her home in Sacramento. Lady Bird's rebellious ways cause her and her mother's relationship to become increasingly strained. But the two women are a lot more alike than they might realize.
This coming-of-age movie shows some of the hardest and most beautiful parts of the mother-daughter dynamic, so it's an excellent choice for moms and their kids who want to laugh and cry together.
15. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Hear us out. Literally, no one can deny that Sarah Connor is one strong mother.
Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) is a mother figure that goes beyond being a woman with a child. She's like mother to the world, namely in defending it against a super-advanced, liquid metal android who is sent back in time to kill her son, John, before he becomes an adult to lead the human resistance against Skynet (which is an artificial general superintelligence system that controls the killer android). She is, of course, aided by the original Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who suddenly became one of the good guys in order to control the more advanced android threat.
If Die Hard can be a good Christmas movie, we argue that this can be a good Mother's Day movie. Particularly if your mom loves science fiction and action.
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