Moms' Night Out just may be the best family comedy to hit theaters in years. Audiences are loving it! Through all the comedy emerges the messages that moms everywhere need to hear, that they are ENOUGH. That their job is important.
Many of the critics' reviews have not been favorable, yet the reviews by real-life, everyday people have been fantastic. As of this writing, according to Fandango, there are 156 Fan Ratings out there, and the average rating is "5 stars."
I saw it with my family, and I honestly do not remember a time when I have laughed so much in a movie. Part of that was from seeing so many of my own struggles come to life on the big screen, things I faced as a mom of four kids, three of them within four years. It was good to see those things through the eyes of those who were able to find the humor in the scenarios that millions of moms face on a daily basis. That is what is resonating with audiences all across the country.
Though I could not relate to the clean-freak problems of Allyson, endearingly played by the lovely Sarah Drew, I remember so well the feeling of being overwhelmed with the intensity of mothering small children, the constant demands, the continuous "high-alert" state, and the inability to dial it down in the middle of all the chaos. And not understanding why I wasn't happy. Moms' Night Out puts the pieces together quite well for moms in all stages of life, not just for the moms of toddlers.
I saw myself just a few years ago as Allyson sat in the closet floor, "hiding from the house," after all the kiddos were in bed. I gained new respect for what I put my husband through when her husband Sean, played by Sean Astin, came home innocently from work, bearing a bouquet of flowers, to find his wife falling apart, neither having the slightest clue what was really wrong. He did exactly the right thing by simply holding her and loving her, though he couldn't understand why she was feeling the way she was. It was a journey that she, like most moms, had to walk through, to eventually find the meaning in all the chaos.
To the critics who call Sarah Drew's character "whiney," one mother comments, "they obviously don't have children, or else somebody else has raised them for them. I remember days like that." Moms who have stayed home with small children can certainly remember days like that, those overwhelming days when nothing seems to go right, when they wonder if anything they are doing even matters to anyone. The critics seem utterly out of touch with the reality that many moms experience on a daily basis.
Comedy often takes misunderstandings and caricatures to the extreme to find the humor in them, and Moms' Night Out does that well. One Facebook poster said that she and her friends laughed so hard and so continuously that they missed some of the dialogue. They were certainly not alone.
"Children say the darndest things." When those things are spoken out of context, in front of a police officer, who has no idea what the child actually means, the results would not be good, at all, in real life. On the big screen, happening to someone else, those comments can make it hard to breathe between the laughter. Just an FYi, don't ever let your kids name a pet "Mama," especially if there stands the remotest chance that someone could accidentally hurt that pet. "He killed Mama" is just not something you want your kids saying out in public. A police officer might not quite understand.
It is rare to find a comedy that is not something that you either have to explain things you didn't want to for your kids, or hope and pray that the humor went over their heads. Moms' Night Out pulls it off, demonstrating that it actually is possible to have hilarious comedy that is family-friendly, and even kid-friendly.
In a culture where the words "raunchy" and "comedy" are frequently paired together, Moms' Night Out manages to entertain without resorting to crude or sexual innuendos.
"I look as this as a family comedy," Sarah Drew told Al.com. "The lead characters happen to be Christians, happen to have this faith background, which I think is really refreshing. We don't have to explain why they are who they are, they just are. This is just a given, they all go to church on Sunday, they all treat each other the way that they are treating each other."
Overall, the acting, the directing, and the script all did an amazing job of capturing what life is really like for middle America, for moms and dads who are in the trenches of raising children, finding the comedy in the beautiful mess called parenting. Raising children is a tough job. It is validating to see a movie acknowledge that reality.
Patricia Heaton, who played the pastor's wife, and Trace Adkins, who played a tattooed biker named Bones, proved to be vital parts of the film. At first both roles appear stereotypical, but as the script plays out, the public masks come off, and we see through Allyson's eyes some very tender, honest moments that powerfully reinforce the theme that all of us, including moms, are valuable and important.
Much of the dialogue echos conversations that perhaps are not heard on the streets of Hollywood or NYC, but they happen in homes, churches, and ballparks all across the country, anywhere that average, everyday families are found. Through the hilarity of Moms' Night Out are woven profound messages that affirm moms everywhere. Moms - you are enough. What you do matters. You are a masterpiece.
So treat yourself to a moms' night out, and watch Moms' Night Out. It is definitely worth it.
[images via Moms' Night Out]