Mom’s Night Out Review

moms_night_out_coverFran Drescher, playing the role of Nanny Fine, once said: "Guilt has been very good to my people." If memory serves she was referring to her Jewish heritage but guilt is hardly monopolized by the Jewish faith. Indeed religion (in nearly all forms) and guilt go together like mashed potatoes and gravy.

The same could be said of parenting.

I remember two things very clearly from the day it actually set in that I was going to be a father. That day we were at the OB/GYN for the ultrasound that would reveal to us the gender of our new arrival. My wife, who hails from a big Italian family, invited anyone who was interested to attend and hear the big news. So her mother, father and younger brother all came. I remember passing around the sonogram picture of our first daughter (the first grandchild) to the family members. When my brother-in-law found out it was going to be a girl, he voiced his disappointment by saying, "I hope you got a receipt."

The other thing I remember was holding my wife's hand in the exam room, staring intently at the ultrasound screen, at what looked to be a penguin-colored squirrel holding a prized nut in tiny mitts while I thought: "I'm sorry I brought you into this mess that's my life kiddo."

Guilt seems to come along with the "Father package" like those anti-moisture packets that you find in new suit pockets that you're not allowed to ever throw away. (By the way, can we all just agree that it's not right that we're expected to hold onto those things forever. I bought a suit, not a puppy. The packets are worthless. I can't eat them, I can't throw them away, this is all WAY more of a commitment than I planned when I purchased these clothes.) Eventually guilt matures into fear that leads you to conclude your life is a mess, you're a mess, and if you don't get things cleaned up double time, you're going to screw your kids up to the point that they will eventually become a ward of the state.

Ever since Freud burst onto the scene blaming parents for everything, mothers and fathers around the world have crept into their children's rooms at night, stood by their bedside and beheld their sleeping angelic faces, and nervously wondered:

What will they tell their therapist about me someday?

Mom's Night Out takes a playful and humorous look at the guilt that comes along with parenting. The guilt you feel on those days when you've heard the word "Mommy" or "Daddy" about a million times and it's only ten in the morning and you feel a nearly irresistible urge to get in your car and drive to Mexico to take up cactus farming and never look back. That guilt you feel when have done everything for everyone, and you know your life is good but you simply don't feel happy, but rather tired, exhausted and wrung out like a moldy old dishrag. And that nagging guilt you feel that, in spite of all your best efforts, you are somehow not good enough for your children, not doing them justice and not living up to the standards you feel you should.

Honestly I have nothing bad to say about this movie whatsoever, and that's remarkable because I'm a curmudgeonly old grump. That's why this movie gets the illustrious 5 Mountain Dew rating. That's right folks, it's that good.

The casting was incredible. Sean Astin and Sara Drew lead the line as the main couple, supported by Patricia Heaton and Trace Atkins of all people, who plays a lovable and frightening tattooed biker who enjoys Pinterest. The film is reminiscent of Date Night staring Steve Carrell and Tina Fey in its conception, but the basic premise is a frazzled mom desiring a night out with her girlfriends has one disaster after another all in attempt to just relax a bit and refresh her spirit.

You don't need to be a stay at home mother, or even have children to enjoy this film. The movie is both incredibly funny, as well as extremely powerful. The message is relevant to people of all walks of life, and family backgrounds. While it is certainly a comedy, it takes a few minutes to gather a head of steam in terms of humor. If you haven't laughed in the first ten minutes, that's ok, stick around.

Initially I was hesitant to watch the movie. I was afraid it was yet another movie where the husband/father character is portrayed as a complete imbecile and incapable of taking care of his own children. I realize stereotypes exist for a reason, but as a husband and a father (and a mostly full time imbecile) I tire of the cliche made popular by sitcoms like "Everybody Loves Raymond", and "King of Queens". But while there is one character who is a bit of a buffoon when it comes to his children, he is innocent enough and his fear of his children is genuine in it's own way. He's not lazy or selfish, but rather he takes the form of the man who is afraid of screwing up his kids and who hasn't been there? The film instead focuses on the differences in husbands and wives, how they relate to one another and their children, and what it's like to watch one half of your marriage team struggle under the weight of family pressures.

I highly encourage you to rent/buy this movie, grab some popcorn and Mt. Dew and watch with the entire family. If you only see one movie this year, or any year for that matter, let it be this one. Also if you're interested, while the movie carries a PG rating, it is cleaner than your typical Shrek film and therefore even your kids can watch it. If it's of any interest to you, recently when we told the kids to pick out a movie they could watch before bed, they picked it over all the princess and animated movies in their sizable movie collection to watch for kid's night.

That's saying something right?

JSS

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