Keep your distance from 'Mom's Night Out'

The Fresno BeeMay 7, 2014 

It's always painful to knock a family, faith-based movie because there are so few films made in the genre. But a review isn't based on good intentions; it has to look at the execution.

It's judgment day for "Mom's Night Out."

The family-friendly film starts out with promise. Allyson (Sarah Drew) is a budding mommy blogger. She's got plenty of fodder for her online commentary as the mother of three young (and out of control) children who gets little help from her husband (Sean Astin) because he's gone a lot for business.

Allyson reaches a boiling point with the mommy madness and demands a night off to have a quiet dinner with other beleaguered mothers.

This is where the Jon Erwin and Andrea Gyertson Nasfell script falls into a deep coma. There's no life to any of the adventures that happen when the night goes bad — unless you think the sight of a preacher's wife carrying empty beer bottles is hilarious. Most of the comedy feels like a rehash of scenes from cheesy cable movies.

The big problem is that none of the moms are interesting. Patricia Heaton sleepwalks her way through the role of Sondra, the preacher's wife with a shady past, while Andrea Logan White's portrayal of the nerdish Izzy is so dull she would make a wallflower look exciting. Abbie Cobb is supposed to play the bad girl of the group, Bridget, but she's got little to do except run around and shout, "Where's my baby?"

The males in the cast are far more interesting. Kevin Downes — the former Visalia resident who's also one of the film's producers — turns in a more entertaining performance than all of the females combined.

To be fair, it's the script that keeps tripping up the actors. A lot of the jokes — like mentioning the police in a tattoo parlor and watching everyone run — get repeated. There's no surprise that the rough-and-tough biker played with surprising skill by Trace Adkins ends up being the person who dishes out the words of wisdom to pull the movie back to its faith-based roots.

And, for a film that wants to be family friendly, there's an odd disregard for the safety of the children. One baby gets passed around to strangers like a joint at a concert, while another pack of youngsters gets bounced around in a van during a high-speed chase. It's OK to have kids get into comic peril — such as having a toilet seat stuck on their head — but it's important not to cross the into more reality-based danger that negates the humor.

The movie opens on Mother's Day weekend, but your best bet is to give mom flowers instead of taking her to see this movie.

Movie review

"Mom's Night Out," rated PG for action scenes. Stars Sarah Drew, Patricia Heaton, Sean Astin, Trace Adkins. Directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin. Running time: 98 minutes. Grade: C-

Theaters and times

 

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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