My husband and I went to see Moms’ Night Out last weekend. I didn’t research the movie at all and only saw the clip with Trace Adkins beforehand. (A bit about us…we’re from the Northeast. We’re as cynical and sarcastic as they come. My husband is a former Marine and retired police officer. He’s got a comment for and about everything.)
I’ve been a little mystified at the online drama surrounding Moms’ Night Out. A number of sophisticated film critics were saying that it was regressive, and frightening in its demeaning and stereotypical portrayal of women. Most online reviews have been consistently negative.
But the feedback on my Facebook stream was quite different. Most of my friends loved the movie and highly recommended it. Why would that be?
Because it’s about many of us. Some of us have chosen this crazy stay at home mom’s life. (Notice that I said chose. We weren’t forced into it.) But we get overwhelmed. It’s exhausting. Our houses are messy. Once in awhile we just want to have a conversation with another adult. I did cringe a little bit when I saw she was a mom blogger. (I had a fleeting thought that I had become a cliche and should stop blogging.)
There were a number of jokes in the movie that were probably more relatable if you are familiar with the Christian subculture. Many of us know a woman who is some version of Sondra (Patricia Heaton). We are familiar with the rushed Sunday mornings trying to get the family dressed and out to church only to have someone tap us on the shoulder halfway through the service because our child is crying inconsolably or had a potty accident (or our special needs child is having a meltdown). We all know at least one sanctimonious church member who looks down her perfectly groomed self at us and wonders why we can’t get our act together. (I’ve actually had someone remove the glasses from my face to wipe them off for me. I guess I forgot.) We speed to church with a Christian fish symbol on the back of our minivans.
Some Christians have said that the movie should have portrayed Allyson starting her morning off with reading her Bible and she might not have been so overwhelmed. In the interest of full disclosure, I usually start my mornings trying to wake up over my coffee and Facebook. Just keeping it real.
With all that out of the way, we loved Moms’ Night Out. It wasn’t perfect (and again, is any movie perfect?) We were probably some of the loudest people laughing in the theater. We thought the whole van chase sequence was one of the funniest parts of the movie and the scene with Trace Adkins the most touching. Was it preachy? We didn’t think so. I suspect it was very real and was a gentle and genuine expression of his faith journey. As a person who shares the recovery walk, I get that too.
Moms’ Night Out may not describe everyone’s mothering experience exactly. Does it have to? Some of us are stay at home moms and have the luxury of not having to work. Some of us are trying to work online. Some of us work outside the home. But we can relate to and laugh at the craziness that comes along with mothering. In the end, it’s worth it.
And then I cried at the end when they dedicated it to all moms. That’s the message of the movie to me. This is what we do and our hard work does not go unnoticed.