Unlikely Advent Film: Mom’s Night Out!

Advent is an invitation to awaken, to appreciate the beauty of life. Amid the chaos of November and December, we can probably all appreciate a little better the kind of chaos lived by a mom with three young children. Moms’ Night Out, one of the strong Christian films of 2014, is a comedy that offers some tidbits about appreciating the beauty of our lives, as well as insights into the beauty of the vocation to motherhood.

Check out my review of Moms’ Night Out with Salt + Light Radio this week here. 

Moms’ Night Out is about a very overworked, overstressed, exhausted mother of three little ones who finally arranges to have a night out with two other stressed-out moms—including her pastor’s wife. But everything goes wrong—from the restaurant reservations falling through, to a car chase trying to recover a supposedly stolen minivan, to a missing child. Moms’ Night Out is an over-the-top comedy starring Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, and Patricia Heaton. With solid acting and writing, Moms’ Night Out is not your typical “preachy” Christian film. It’s more the unspoken assumptions in the film that make it so refreshingly wholesome, Christian, and family-friendly.

Artistically, Moms; Night Out has some flaws. The crazy comedy moments went too far for my personal taste, becoming so ridiculous that I couldn’t believe them after a certain point. What’s comedy and what’s going too far for credibility? It’s a fine line that’s also very personal, but when no one in the film is using their common sense any more (including the police!), it started to feel too contrived. While comedy in a film like this would include exaggerating the irrational aspect of motherly love, the extreme lack of rationality displayed by all four moms undercuts its otherwise successful exploration of the beauty of motherhood. Other limitations of the film include using stereotypes and a somewhat predictable plot.

On the positive side, Moms’ Night Out is full of laugh out loud moments, solid acting, a strong and loving onscreen marriage, and a couple of truly touching scenes. Overall, Moms’ Night Out is a fun exploration of motherhood that reinforces family and Gospel values. In choosing to tell the story from the POV of a young stressed-out mother of three young children, the filmmakers address some of the real fears that young women worry about when they consider getting married and having children.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have moments when we become overwhelmed with the greatness of the mission that God has given us here on earth. In the film, the protagonist Allyson, who is troubled by her inadequacy as a mom and the lack of fulfillment that she feels in the midst of the stress of raising little ones, discovers (or re-discovers) the beauty in the fragility of her life and her call. This is a truth important for all of us to reflect on, and particularly appropriate for our Advent journey.

Moms’ Night Out is a zany comedy that will not just make you laugh, but will resonate with anyone who has ever encountered a family with young children, beautifully showing the sacredness of marriage and of motherhood within the chaos of every day life.

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