Frenzied Moms rejoice
Newsflash for out-of-touch Hollywood studios, and for clueless (and predominantly male) film critics and militant feminist apologists: There indeed are millions of stay-at-home moms who will not only relate to but enjoy the humor and insight within “Moms’ Night Out.”
In fact, the very existence of this faith-based film is a minor miracle in itself. It doesn’t just preach to the choir, but has a subtle yet important message to moms and wives of all faiths and walks of life: Don’t be so hard on yourself, because the occasional insanity you endure day-to-day has rich and profound meaning even if society seems to demean your importance with increasing regularity.
“Moms’ Night Out” features exaggerated comedy and is often silly as depicted by frenetic mommy blogger Allyson (a believably manic Sarah Drew), who worries over every detail of her kids’ life, including the potential for salmonella poisoning and the effect of her sweet but often absent husband Sean’s (Sean Astin) violent video games on her three energetic children.
(How strange that critics would find exaggeration something to criticize, especially in a comedy, as if a baby and a Bengal tiger winding up in the same Las Vegas hotel made “The Hangover” so believable. According to www.rottentomatoes.com reviewers are killing the film while audiences are loving it.)
Aching for a night out with friends to help break out of her “stress paralysis,” Allyson elicits the company of best friend Izzy (Andrea Logan White) and her pastor’s wife Sondra (Patricia Heaton of TV’s “The Middle”). Predictably, everything goes wrong. The better-than-average cast for a film of this budget pulls off the contrived but occasionally very witty comedy, particularly country star Trace Adkins as a tough but tender biker who brings some authentic perspective and gentle wisdom to the wacky proceedings.
What separates “Mom’s Night Out” from similar high concept comedies is how it earns its sincerity in its quiet moments. There is nothing archaic or outdated about the self-doubt a young woman may feel when all her dreams of wife and motherhood get lost in the day-to-day rigors of housecleaning and chaos management.
While “Moms’ Night Out” doesn’t break new ground in terms of its broad comedy, there are nuggets to treasure here. It’s a rare comedy for and about the extraordinarily ordinary mini-van mom who needs a little reassurance—the kind that is rarely found in Hollywood’s normal obsession with the edgy and the extreme.
Sony’s Affirm Films studio also produced two other fine family films, “Soul Surfer” and “Courageous,” and deserves credit for refusing to pander to its market as much as understanding it and seeking to inspire it. “Moms’ Night Out” is only silly on the surface and examines more truth than some are willing to admit.