Film director Garry Marshall returns to Northwestern for ‘Mother’s Day’ screening

Mariana Alfaro, Web Editor

Director Garry Marshall (Medill ‘56) said Tuesday that, despite criticisms of the film genre, romantic comedies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“They always say it’s over, there’s no more sitcoms, there’s no more rom-coms, but they keep making them,” Marshall said to about 100 people following a screening of his newest movie “Mother’s Day” at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. “I unfortunately do pictures where nobody flies and they don’t blow things up but … I will continue doing films that I think celebrate the human spirit.”

During his career, which spans more than 50 years, Marshall has directed blockbusters such as “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries” series and created shows such as “Happy Days” and “The Odd Couple.” He returned to Northwestern on Tuesday afternoon to participate in a Q&A session hosted by NU’s Arts Circle, where he discussed “Mother’s Day” as well as his time at NU and the future of the TV and film industry.

In “Mother’s Day,” a romantic comedy with an ensemble cast including Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis and Julia Roberts, Marshall explores relationships between women and their mothers, children, husbands and friends in storylines that, in the end, are revealed to be interconnected.

The film, which Marshall said hasn’t received the best reviews, currently holds an 8 percent approval rate in movie review site Rotten Tomatoes. Marshall, however, said he does not pay much attention to them.

Julia (Roberts) has a very good picture coming out in two weeks with George Clooney, that will get good reviews, it’s a whole dramatic picture,” he said. “I do light stuff, so I don’t think the reviews are the same.”

During the Q&A, Marshall told the audience that his favorite class as an undergraduate student at NU was a journalism course where he had to finish writing a story under pressure. This, he said, taught him he must continue his work, even in the face of adversity.

“I’ve gone through so many problems … but I learned here that you’ve got to finish,” he said. “That’s what it is about, finishing. That has helped me throughout my whole career.”

In an interview with The Daily after the event, Marshall said students should leave NU with something they created “under their arm” in order to find better career opportunities.

“Have something with you, whatever it may be,” he said. “We don’t do auditions like we used to. … You’ve got to come (and say), ‘Hello, I graduated, here’s all my stuff.'”

During the Q&A, Marshall said he is excited to see more women joining the film industry and praised his sister Penny Marshall for being the first woman to direct a movie that grossed more than $100 million with “Big” released in 1988.

Communication lecturer Zina Camblin, who interviewed Marshall at the event, said it was important for Marshall to emphasize the role of women in the film industry.

“There’s still not enough (women); we need more,” she said. “We have such strong young women at Northwestern coming up with so much talent to go out there and knock them dead out in LA.”

Danica Rosengren, a Communication senior at the event, said she has been a fan of Marshall for years and was excited to see him return to campus.

“‘Princess Diaries’ is one of my favorite childhood films,” she said. “At a really young age I was like, ‘That’s the director I want to work with, and that’s the type of director I want to become.’”

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