Fun Mom Dinner movie review: stay at home, moms

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Fun Mom Dinner red light

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Stereotypes and contrived shenanigans don’t seem to actually offer much catharsis for harried moms seeking escape. And the dads inevitably butt into their me-time.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about women
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Fun? Nope, not for us. Dinner? Mostly offscreen. Moms? Check… though even here, in a movie allegedly devoted to mom time, they have to share the spotlight with dads.tweet WTF?

Fun Mom Dinner (the title sounds like a Japanglish attempt to sound cooltweet) starts off promising enough, with Toni Collette’s (Krampus, Miss You Already) Kate complaining about how child-focused the interactions of so many women can be — “I’m mommed out,” she sighs, with a refreshing lack of reverence for motherhood, something that cinema is sorely lacking — and with Katie Aselton’s (The Gift, Jeff, Who Lives at Home) Emily having to explain to her husband (Adam Scott: Black Mass, Hot Tub Time Machine 2) that it’s not “babysitting” when a father spends time with his own children, it’s parenting. (That’s such a perennial female grumble about men’s relationships with their kids that it seems like it should be a cinematic cliché, but I actually cannot recall that ever being said in a movie before.)

The secret is out. This is what goes on when your wife tells you she’s “just going out for drinks with the girls.”
The secret is out. This is what goes on when she says she’s “just going out for drinks with the girls.”tweet

But it all goes stupidly downhill from there. Kate and Emily join newly divorced Jamie (Molly Shannon: Hotel Transylvania 2, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) and Melanie (Bridget Everett: Trainwreck) — who is an unfortunate stereotype of a fat woman as wackily aggressive and aggressively wacky — for an evening meal out that goes from zero to outrageous with nothing in betweentweet; director Alethea Jones, making her feature debut, can’t quite paper over the gaping lack of transitions in the plot. The outrageous stuff ranges from unfunnily weird — since when do drugstores sells adult-sized (or even kid-sized) furry costumes? — to the weirdly unfunny: the “marijuana sommeliers” the ladies pop in to buy from should be way more amusing (as in, exhibiting any level of amusing at all), considering that they are played by David Wain (They Came Together, Hell Baby) and Paul Rudd (Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man).

Fun Mom Dinner doesn’t have much of an idea about how women might go wild…

At a runtime of under an hour and 20 minutes, the fact that significant attention is paid to incompetent “babysitting” husbands Scott and Rob Huebel (The House, Baywatch), as Melanie’s spouse, suggests that first-time screenwriter Julie Rudd didn’t have enough of an idea about how women might go wild during a night out to fill a teacup, or a wineglass, or whatever other stereotypical mom-ish container we might call upon. And too much of what there is relies on karaoke — which is never entertaining unless you are drunk and the one doing the singing — and something bordering on slut-shaming, revolving around Emily’s flirtation with a cute bartender (Adam Levine: Pitch Perfect 2, Begin Again). The shenanigans are so contrived and so unlikely that it completely fails to achieve whatever catharsis it is intended to offer.

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