MOMS’ NIGHT OUT
***1/2 (out of 5)
May 9, 2014
Sarah Drew as ALLYSON
Sean Astin as SEAN
Patricia Heaton as SONDRA
Trace Adkins as BONES
David Hunt as CABBIE
Andrea Logan White as IZZY
Abbie Cobb as BRIDGET
Directed by: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’ve never been one of those people to decry the abundance of R-rated films in the marketplace. In fact, I often get annoyed when there’s a statistical upswing in PG-rated entertainment and people act like it’s the answer to prayers (only to have raunchy comedies once again become a big deal). I like all kinds of film, both crass and clean, but more than just that, I’m more concerned with a comedy being funny than having it fit in a pre-determined ratings classification.
It is for that reason that I actually enjoyed “Moms’ Night Out,” a wholesome PG-rated alternative to broader screwball comedies.
“Moms’ Night Out” tells the story of a group of women with varying ages of children who want a break from being moms for one night. They book a night at a fancy restaurant and leave the kids home with the fathers. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and the moms’ night out becomes a roller coaster of problems and shenanigans… all squeaky clean, of course.
Directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin, whose last film was the more overtly issue-driven “October Baby,” “Moms’ Night Out” comes from a faith-based perspective, but I found a lot of respect for the film because it didn’t sacrifice a fun story and comedy to ham-fist a message into the movie.
Oh sure, there’s a message, and it gets pretty pushy in the third act. However, in a cinema landscape that has such declarative faith-based titles like “God’s Not Dead” and “Heaven Is for Real,” it’s nice to see that not everything that comes out of the faithful filmmakers is directly about religion.
What makes “Moms’ Night Out” work is that, simply put, it’s a funny movie. There’s several moments where I laughed out loud, and I enjoyed a lot of the shenanigans. It reminded me of the more broad and mainstream movie “Date Night” with Steve Carell and Tina Fey, though with a more sanitized script. Still, the movie does not sacrifice comedy for message, and that’s something I appreciated.
“Moms’ Night Out” is the kind of movie you can take your mother to without worrying that she’ll get offended, and you can still have a good time with it.
There were two things that did rub me the wrong way about this movie, and it’s wroth bringing them up since this is a film based in part on ideology and belief. The first problem I had is a bit of a nit-pick, but it presents Sarah Drew’s character as a neat freak who is going bonkers trying to deal with the chaos of being a parent and having a clean home.
Let me refer you to a meme that features a triangle with the following words on each point: “children,” “clean house” and “sanity.”
There’s nothing more true than that meme, and I’ve seen both women and men lose their minds to keep a house worthy of a real estate staging in the midst of the mess of raising children. This puts an unreasonable amount of pressure on new moms, and speaking as a self-proclaimed slob, this is not the best way to raise kids. One must surrender to the chaos, and one night out every week or two isn’t going to save things.
Additionally, and this is a problem I have not just with this movie but with the overall image of modern parenting, the men are such bumbling idiots that they are practically incapable of keeping their children alive for a few hours, let along taking care of them. This bothers me on a personal level because I am a stay-at-home dad who has raised three boys. This simply reinforces the wrong attitude that many men have, that child-raising is primarily the mother’s job. It’s not, and shame on anyone who thinks this way.
Still, with these minor issues I had, I was surprised at how entertained I was with “Moms’ Night Out.” It was fun, and the cast is pretty strong. It also has an impressive production value that raises the film above many small independent features like it.
While I don’t want all of my entertainment sanitized to a PG level, it’s nice to watch one of these every now and then.