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Review: 'Moms' Night Out' is retro but not in a good way

The latest faith-based film product, "Moms' Night Out" is a bland comedy that offers the lesson that women need to stay home.

These ladies' night goes awry in "Moms' Night Out." Credit: Saeed Adyani These ladies' night goes awry in "Moms' Night Out."
Credit: Saeed Adyani

‘Moms’ Night Out’
Directors: Andrew and Jon Erwin
Stars: Sarah Drew, Patricia Heaton
Rating: PG
2 (out of 5) Globes

Nice, decent, church-going people need movies about them too, and that low expectation has produced “Moms’ Night Out,” which is pretty good if your only demand is that a movie like it exists at all. It’s the PG-rated comedy for people who thought “Date Night,” with Steve Carell and Tina Fey, was too dirty. (That was PG-13.) Its gender politics are Middle American, if not retro, as in the 1950s. In fact, the entire thing is about all the crazy (but not too crazy) disasters that occur when mothers step away from the house for even a single night, let alone ever.

Sarah Drew is Allyson, a seriously frazzled stay-at-home mother with three demanding (but adorable) children. She has a mommy blog with three followers, down from four, and her every emotion is all-caps stressed. She needs a few hours off, a night on the suburban town with other moms, including Patricia Heaton’s pastor’s wife. Of course, that means putting the kids in the hands of the dad (Sean Astin), and even one as unfailingly kind and decent and patriarchal is bound to let that go to hell. Meanwhile, Allyson can’t even make dinner reservations without getting the week wrong, and that’s before her car is stolen, all because she tried to do things herself.

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“Moms’ Night Out” purports to be a love letter to the audience it’s courting, though it’s really a reflection of the old fashioned worldview of its makers, brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin. They were last seen with “October Baby,” a dramatic screed against abortion. In a jarringly lighter mode this time, they bust out snazzy montages and loud “whoosh” sounds during editing transitions. They even bust out “Gangnam Style” at a bowling alley. Though the latest fit of faith-based programming, it’s more casual about religion; the characters just happen to go to church, and only Heaton and a nice biker named “Bones,” played by Trace Adkins, actually drop the God talk.

The actual misadventures are pretty stock if harmless, though played out with forced energy. Drew looks like she’s having an allergic reaction to the same energy pills they fed Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the ’30s, while the film’s idea of silliness is to have a cabbie with an affected British accent. Everyone freaks out over relatively minor incidents, as when one character reveals she has — gasp shock horror OMG — a tattoo. The token lesson is a questionable one: That moms are both appreciated but should really never leave the home and might as well stay chained there while the boys make the bucks and play video games.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 
 
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