In its opening weekend, it grossed more than it cost to make. On the revenue-per-screen rankings it beat the “Amazing Spider-Man 2,” coming in second only to the R-rated comedy “Neighbors,” which stars Zac Ephron and Seth Rogen.
“Moms’ Night Out” (PG) is a feel-good comedy about a harried young mother who just needs a little time away. It offers no hot superstars — unless you count Samwise Gamgee and “Everybody Loves Raymond’s” wife in supporting roles. (Granted, Sarah Drew played the Christian doctor on “Grey’s Anatomy,” but that’s not silver screen, and virgins are so not hot in Hollywood.)
The movie was shot in the glamorous state of Alabama, around Birmingham. Rotten Tomatoes says the critics find it “cheap-looking, unfunny and kind of sexist to boot…a disappointment from start to finish.” Despite the critics wisdom, 85% of the audience liked it. Why?
In a word: relatability.
Ok, I’m pretty sure that’s not a word, but it’s a thing.
For the vast majority of Americans, traditional family life connects. Unlike the typical Hollywood production, this film features husbands who faithfully love their wives, women who love to be mothers, people who attend church regularly (not just show up in an empty darkened sanctuary when they’re suicidal, on the lam or searching for Knights Templar treasure). As a bonus, it includes characters who can speak without cursing and cope without drinking.
My lovely bride and I took our teen boys — ages 18 and 15 — to see “Mom’s Night Out.” I laughed and cried. (I blame Trace Adkins for the weeping.) As we climbed the steps to the top of the theatre, I remember thinking, “Look, two parents with two older teenaged boys going to a movie together!” Our younger son liked it so much he took his 19-year-old sister to see it the next day.
The folks who made this movie will likely watch the Oscars from their living rooms, out of curiosity…after they put the kids to bed. And that’s just fine. Because they’ve done something special — they’ve bonded emotionally with the people who do the most important work in the country, and with those of us who admire our wives, mothers and grandmas.