I was invited to an early screening of a movie being released on Mother’s Day weekend. My friends Melanie, Carisa and I settled into our seats with our swag bags with open minds.
Until the dude said “this movie is faith-based” and has a nice but lighthearted message. I’m open to lighthearted messaged. I worry about the “faith-based” part. You never know what that’s going to mean, and, it pains me to say this, “Christian” movies tend to be heavy on the cheese with a double extra large side of sap.
But still, I was open. I promise.
The faith- based part of this movie is the least of its issues. In fact, they were pretty ok, as those things go. And the leader guy was right: there were a few moments of genuine laughter and solid wisdom.
The cliches, the gender and race stereotypes, the whining! It was a lot to swallow. With a name like Mom’s Night Out, you get what you expect; frazzled mom grabs two other frazzled moms and hit the town for a wild night. Except by wild night, I mean the Baptist wild kind, that turns from dinner out to riding in a biker gang and ending up in the slammer.
A few notes. The narrator/blogger starts by telling us she’s a “mommy” blogger. I don’t even know what that means, but I know most women who blog about parenting prefer mom to mommy. She tells us that she is a neat freak, but what she really means is that she is hiding her depression and anxiety and search for perfection in her pathologically clean house. My first reaction to her: this is not a neat freak. This is obsessive.
The cast is hopefully multi-racial, as are the marriages represented. But this all takes a weird turn when a black cop accidentally tasers a white woman. That scene made my stomach hurt. That type of scene is so loaded with racial explosives that I was stunned it had been considered funny and or appropriate.
We are treated to the standard caricatures: the perfect pastor’s wife, the falling apart perfectionist, the cumbersome dad who can’t remember how to change a diaper, the tattooed biker dude who’s ostensibly supposed to be threatening hut who ends up (surprisingly) with a solid performance and the best lines. (Trace Adkins, WTG).)
Christian lingo was not employed over the top, but the cringe-worthy line was screamed by the heroin, “I’m listening to my his and that’s biblical!”
And more. As I return to thinking about the movie I’m of two minds. I want to say it’s harmless fun, but it’s not. It’s ok fun, but it may not be harmless. One gets the distinct impression, that although all the people are happy and smiling at the end, Pastor’s Wife has definitely got some unspoken rage, that the bumbling husband has not figured out anything, that the happy suddenly wife will not be able to cling to her newfound happiness because she had a night out.
The truth is the stories behind these women would have been much more compelling. Why is the pastor’s wife so angry? Why does the heroine (I cannot remember her name) seem to be struggling with deep mental and emotional needs but not dealing with them? Why do they think that audiences will be assured that half the biker gang is peopled by white men from the Baptist church?
So, yeah. Stereotypes exist for a reason. And that’s what this movie is.