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Moms' Night Out (2014)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/2/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/1/2014
In a perfect world, every movie would appeal to everyone. But as we don't live in a perfect world, movies often interest only a specific audience, although, of course, there are exceptions. Here's the question -- When filmmakers craft a film, are they aiming for a certain type of viewer. In many cases, the answer to this is yes -- the movie is crafted so that a particular subset of the population will "get it". The drawback of this approach is that it can easily alienate those who fall outside of this group. Let's say, for example, that you wanted to make a squeaky-clean madcap comedy. Who would this play to? That's the question posed by Moms' Night Out.
Allyson (Sarah Drew) is a stay-at-home mom who is completely stressed-out. Her husband, Sean (Sean Astin), travels for work and Allyson is often left to take care of their three children by herself -- and homeschool them as well. Allyson compares herself to other mothers and feels like a failure. Feeling that she needs a break, Allyson suggests that she and her friends, Izzy (Andrea Logan White) and Sondra (Patricia Heaton) have a girls' night out. So, leaving their husbands and kids at home, they get dressed up and hit the town. However, their plans immediately go awry Allyson finds herself aiding her sister-in-law Bridget (Abbie Cobb) in finding her lost child. From there, things really spin out of control as one misunderstanding leads to another, as Allyson's night of relaxation turns into the craziest ordeal of her life.
Moms' Night Out comes from Affirm Films, which is the are of Sony Pictures that specializes in "faith-based and inspirational" films. I'll be the first to admit that I haven't seen many of these movies, typically because they beat you over the head with their message and sacrifice actual filmmaking quality in favor of catering to a certain audience. When you think of this sort of movie, uplifting sports movies or historical epics are usually what comes to mind. So, it's somewhat surprising to see a goofy comedy come from a company like this. Can they pull it off?
Before we answer that question, let me tell you an anecdote. I made a friend in high school who had been brought up in a strict Southern Baptist household. (Trust me, this story is going somewhere.) Due to this, he knew very little about secular music. I was knee-deep into alt-rock and metal at the time, and when I introduced him to R.E.M. (no doubt corrupting him forever), it blew his mind. Similarly, I can easily see how those who have never been exposed to the likes of There's Something About Mary, Talladega Nights, and Ace Ventura, would think that Moms' Night Out is positively madcap.
And therein lies the problem with Moms' Night Out. The movie never rises about standard sitcom fare. Much of the humor trucks in the classic modes of Three's Company, as it's predicated on misunderstandings and coincidental crossed paths. Most of the jokes take root in the idea that Allyson's perfectly planned night of relaxation is almost immediately ruined and that these normally soft-spoken and forth-right are suddenly caught in one crazy situation after another. The material is particularly benign and it's never truly funny. It's admirable that someone wanted to make a comedy which is free of sexual jokes and profanity and those elements certainly aren't necessary to make funny stuff, but the entire film feels so neutered that it stymies itself. Comedy is about being dangerous and taking risks and Moms' Night Out certainly never does that.
There's also the film's somewhat odd messages. Given Affirm's background, the religious overtones are fairly subtle here. There is a speech about God at the end, but it doesn't feel preachy or out of place. The movie does have some interesting things to say about parenting and relationships. The movie pounds the drum for stay-at-home moms and asks us to feel sorry for Allyson who lives in a nice house and has chosen to keep her kids at home. It was her choice to have three children and care for them in this way, so it's difficult for the viewer to buy into her plight. And, of course, we get the stereotypical admission from Sean that Allyson's job is very tough. This is the part of the film which feels preachy as it drives home the notion that a woman's place is in the home. While Moms' Night Out was clearly meant to be a chick-flick, some woman may find it offensive.
Moms' Night Out also has some particularly odd views concerning video games on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth is good, but the image does goes somewhat soft at times. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.1 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo and surround effects really come to life during the car chase scene and they show impressive separation. The music fills the speakers, but there were few subwoofer effects.
The Moms' Night Out Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Directors Andrew and Jon Erwin and Producer Kevin Downes. The Disc offers five DELETED SCENES which run about 3 minutes. Obviously, these are all quite brief. "The Heart of Moms' Night Out" (4 minutes) has the cast and creative team discussing the central motherhood and relationship themes of the film. "Casting Moms' Night Out" (6 minutes) examines how the actors came together for the project. "The Art of Improv" (5 minutes) takes us on-set to show how some extra lines were snuck into certain scenes. "The Art of Action" (5 minutes) explores the car chase scenes and how the stunts were coordinated. The final extra is a 6-minute reel of "Bloopers".
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long