Suburban moms engage in stereotyping antics
Moms’ Night Out is dangling on the line of cinematic preachiness, ironic since it so often engages in judgmental stereotypes and behaviors. Sarah Drew’s overwhelming performance energy guides this feminist fantasy as it unfortunately thrives on tiresome catch-all humor and shoehorned scripture methodology.
The Erwin Brothers, Jon and Andrew, piece together an eye rolling if harmless bit of suburban comedy as moms ramp up for a Saturday night escape before their plans drift southward. Stolen vans, police chases, tattoo parlors, missing kids, and crushed birds are plucked from the storytelling mayhem hat, if all so softened as to render their success rate moot.
Consider it Sunday best comedy – never raucous enough to feel unrestrained and never bold enough to raise itself beyond a level of politeness. Yet, there exists a level of groan-inducing shame wherein the new age hipster/dancer father is maligned for his incompetency, video game players are crudely characterized, and sedate inhabitants of the tattoo parlor dart when anyone mentions the police. Moms’ Night Out has story answers for these accusations, but as such, succumbs to an admittance of the issue.
Central to the feature is mom power, respectably done through the constant aura of screaming children and a home so disrupted as to be part of a commercial for cleaning products during daytime TV. (That or energy drinks.) Sean Astin’s role of Drew’s on-screen supportive husband is fine. Much of the male cast is in fact, except for Marco (Robert Amaya) who wilts under all parenting pressure for the sake of this “mom-com.”
Any sense of calm is disrupted by advice theater, the “it will be okay” or “all parents struggle” morals meant to bring an entire theater together in synchronized head nodding. A few of these maneuver into Bible stories to ensure a target audience feels comfortable and feel throw away rather than a necessity.
Anything central to success in this feature comes back to Sarah Drew. It’s either a panic attack, a breakdown, or screechy eardrum assault which somehow avoids being irritating. Otherwise, Moms’ Night Out is far too scrawny and deliberate in its delivery to be screen material. Cable maybe, not big screens.
Most of this feature spans the events of a single night. Black levels are crucial. Thankfully, shadow delineation and black level density are rich. Drew chooses a black dress for the evening and it never becomes lost in the sea of darkness.
Color becomes mobbed by dullness, part of it being a lack of light and also some fading in corrective phases by intent. Flesh tones are clean if pumped with a rush of orange at times, while primaries are mostly intact in terms of accuracy.
As a digitally sourced production, Moms’ Night Out will win the battle with noise. A handful of shots end up lightly touched by buzzing artifacts, purely part of the source and not the AVC work from Sony.
In close, fidelity is sublime. Close-ups prove striking in their resolution and medium shots hold to the same standard of quality. Exteriors come packed with fine detail while a handful of aerials of Atlanta shine in the night sky.
Mixing work is often vague for this lightly budgeted offering. Ambiance is added to multiple bowling sequences including a massive bass line thanks to a DJ who blasts Gangam Style. Stereos and surrounds work in tandem, both for the initial music thrust and the echo as it sweeps through the facility.
The big moment comes as a vehicle chase gets underway. Engines sweep the soundfield and pan as needed with appreciable positioning. Sirens wail to dress the sequence in a constant presence. Dialog isn’t lost on the scenario either.
Andrew and Jon Erwin are joined by producer Kevin Downes for a commentary track which is fine, but it’s a shame none of the women show up to add their touch considering the target audience. Five short deleted scenes are bland. The Heart of Moms’ Night Out focuses on, well, moms for four minutes.
A featurette on casting and the process is self-explanatory. Art of Improv shows a frequent deviation from the script in alternate takes plus some discussion from cast/crew. Art of the Action follows up by detailing the car chase and what was involved. There’s a blooper reel too which has some zingers.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.