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Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:26 am

Moms’ Night Out a misguided adventure


While a movie may be pitched to a particular audience, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those who fall outside that demographic can’t enjoy or be touched by it. Obviously, I am not a young girl between the ages of 7-12, yet I found Frozen to be a charming film that was far more entertaining than I thought it would be. Directors Andrew and Joe Erwin’s Moms’ Night Out have made their movie for the haggard and unappreciated, namely the modern mother who feels herself pulled in five different directions at once, never doing anything particularly well while barely keeping her family afloat, having lost her true identity amidst a tsunami of soiled diapers, children’s programming and unexpected disasters.

If there was a poster child for “Fatal Stress,” it would be Allyson (Sarah Drew), a young mother who’s convinced she’s doing a poor job raising her three kids. Frankly, there’s plenty of evidence to support this. Her trio of tykes are uncontrollable hellions, with one of her sons being in the habit of getting his head stuck in toilets and other tight spaces. Often left to hold down the fort on her own, Allyson is slowly losing her mind as Sean (Sean Astin), her well meaning but clueless husband is constantly traveling on business. Upon returning home, he notices how frazzled she is and insists that she take time for herself, something she leaps at. Before you know it, she’s set up a night out with her BFF Izzy (Logan White) and her pastor’s wife Sondra (Patricia Heaton). A quiet dinner at a tony restaurant is about all that’s on the agenda but, of course, it all goes horribly wrong.
The rapidity with which the film goes off the rails is remarkable. While this Adventures in Babysitting for adults is meant to be a lark, the ridiculous depths it sinks to makes an episode of Three Broke Girls seem like a Moliere farce in comparison. One awkward moment trips on the heels of another as the matronly trio find themselves looking for their lost vehicle, visiting tattoo parlors and involved in a deadly car chase as they wind up searching for Allyson’s sister-in-law’s lost baby.

Drew’s performance goes from charming to grating in nothing flat and that proves to be one of the movie’s great faults. She gives us a woman that’s so manic that electro-shock therapy seems a more viable option for her than a night out with the girls. You end up being more worried for her than amused, which is the wrong tact to take in a comedy. The blame rests firmly on the shoulders of the sibling directors not the actress herself. Everyone else does a competent job – they hit their marks and know their lines – and are required to do little else.

While the Erwins’ intent is to pay tribute to the tireless work of mothers everywhere, showing again and again that they make their domestic worlds go ’round and ’round, in the process they make all of the men in these women’s lives – and by extension, all males everywhere – look like complete idiots. Watching kids without any of them getting hurt or lost is apparently a skill inherent only to the female of the species. Chaos is the name of the game when Sean and his buddies are left to mind the tykes. Their solution to watching them is to take them to a Chuck E. Cheese-type nightmare so they distract the kids with games and pump them full of soda and pizza. Yep, if Moms’ Night Out proves one thing, it’s that men, children and well the entire world would be in turmoil if mothers weren’t there to hold it all together. While that may be true to a certain extent, I do know one thing. You will prove that you appreciate the mom in your life if you sit through this film with her. It is above and beyond the call of duty, no matter how many domestic crises she may have handled in the past.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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