Movie Review: Moms’ Night Out

Moms-Night-Out-PosterIt’s very rare that a movie title describes the plot of a movie as accurately as this one, I think anyone can guess what Moms’ Night Out is about.  Though, I would take it one step further, yes of course we know it’s about some Moms’ who have a night out, but can you guess what is going to happen during this night out?  Sure can, chaos… but what about the Dads’ who have to stay home?  Yup, you guessed it… chaos.

But for those of you out there dying to know exactly what the plot of this movie is, allow me to fill you in.  Allison (Sarah Drew) is a stay-at-home Mom raising her two kids, and her husband Sean (Sean Astin) is doing everything he can to help her, while also holding down a full time job.  Allison is desperate for a night out, so she asks her best friend Izzy, and her pastor’s wife Sondra (Patricia Heaton) if they wanna go have a ladies night.  Once the night finally arrives, the husbands are all freaking out about having to stay home with the kids.  Sean enlists his deadbeat friend to help; as well as Izzy’s husband who is deathly afraid of small children.  Of course, in true sitcom like fashion, anything that can go wrong, does… at first it’s only little mishaps, but eventually the ladies find themselves on a search for Sean’s half-sister’s baby who may or may not be at a tattoo shop, or possibly at the baby’s fathers ex girlfriends house.

Convoluted eh?  You still with me?  The ladies also end up getting help from their taxi cab driver, and a burly tattoo’d biker/tattoo artist named Bones, played by Trace Atkins.

Allison decides to leave their cell phones in the car, and so when there is an emergency at home, Sean has no way to get ahold of them.  So the husbands go on a search for their wives because they can’t handle watching the kids for one night.

So there you have it in a nutshell… I referred to this plot as “sitcom-like” because that’s what it truly is.  Show’s like I Love Lucy, or Frasier have used this “murphy’s law” concept time and time again.  Even in the movies it’s been used ad nauseam, movies like The Hangover come to mind.  In this case however, this plot vehicle is used to serve a more sacren agenda.

Now I have no problem with movies that have a somewhat “religious” message, one that serves to glorify a higher power, but what I DO have a problem with is when it is done somewhat underhandedly.  Not once throughout this movie did I assume the writers were trying to teach some kind of lesson about God’s “saving grace”.  But at the climax of the movie, Allison sits down with Bones (spoiler alert!!) and she unloads all her problems on him, and he tells her that she just needs to trust in Jesus and to put her faith in God and she’ll overcome her stressful life.  Again, if that is your message I don’t care, but I felt as though the message was sort of snuck in towards the end of the film, other than the earlier scenes that take place at church (which isn’t that uncommon in movies) there was no other mention of God, Jesus, or faith.  I literally felt as though I was slapped in the face with this heavy hand.  I watched this movie with my mother who is strong in her own faith journey, and she even commented to me that she felt duped.

Furthermore, there’s no hiding the message of the woman’s role in the family.  Allison is a stay-at-home Mom, her husband Sean is the bread winner, and if you let the stay-at-home Mom have a night out, there will be nothing but chaos, so may as well just stay home where you belong.  Is this my liberal feminist side coming out?  Am I reading into it? Maybe, but you be the judge…

Cliche, heavy handed, sacren, underhanded, and overall not very funny… if this movie is something you’d enjoy, by all means go check it out.  If not, move on to the next one…

What Netflix Sent Me: Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (2012)

MV5BMTAzMTQ3NzM2OTVeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDcxNTI2OTg@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_Okay, so a lot of you probably don’t know who Harry Dean Stanton is, and that’s a shame… he’s one of the greatest character actors still working today.  With 188 movies listed on imdb, HDS has played every character imaginable, a cop, an FBI agent, a country singer, a loner, a judge, a cowboy… you name it.  He’s legendary amongst those who know him, and he’s instantly recognizable even to those who don’t know him.

I heard an interview with HDS on Marc Maron’s WTF some time this year, and as soon as I heard this documentary was coming out, I couldn’t wait to see it.  Often times, whenever I sit down to watch a movie on Netflix, I scroll through the new releases and inevitably add a few things to my list.  As soon as I came across this one, I put it on instantly… I couldn’t wait.  Harry Dean Stanton is a mystery, and I think he prefers it that way… but any chance to get a glimpse into his life is worth it.

In the first few minutes, I started to get nervous that this wasn’t going to be a very “well done” documentary, but then I came to realize that this film was more than a documentary, it was art.  It was more than “well done” it was actually quite beautiful the way documentarian Sophie Huber chose to tell his story.  Shot mostly in black and white, interspersed with clips from many of HDS’s well known roles, and conversations with his friends, this documentary breaks the mold of the standard documentary as seen today.  Instead of “talking head” style interviews, Huber chose to put Harry Dean in the same room as his friends, and let them have a conversation.  People like David Lynch, and Kris Kristopherson share interesting and entertaining stories from the times they worked with him.

Every so often we would get to see a more tender side of Harry Dean as he serenades us with song.  Never having pursued his passion for music on a professional level, HDS shows his talents for singing throughout the documentary.  These segments are a treasure, and make the documentary so much more memorable, and the songs that he sings help to tear down the shroud of mystery surrounding Harry Dean Stanton.

The man has led a very long and interesting life, at 88 years old he’s still chugging along, drinking, smoking, swearing, and living life to the fullest.  He is philosophical without ever trying to be, and he is happy.  Long after he leaves this earth, this documentary will serve as a reminder of his brilliance.

I’m definitely going to be buying this documentary, and it may have even found a place on my list of best movies of this year.

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15 20 Memorable Movie Challenges

Keith Cunningham tagged me in the 15 20 memorable movies challenge (I gave myself another 5). I am tasked with naming 15 movies in 15 minutes thay have stuck with me. It shouldn’t be thought about for long.  I likewise challenge Bryon Krueger, Mark Toriski, and David Neureuther.
20. Horse Feathers  (First Marx Brothers movie, instantly hooked)
19. Brakhage (A documentary about Stan Brakhage, made me realize that film doesn’t always have to tell a story).
18. Brother Sun Sister Moon (One of my dad’s favorite movies, and I’ll never forget watching it with him)
17. Siddhartha (great movie memory shared with my sister Elysabeth, very inspirational movie)
16. Clerks (Maybe this movie doesn’t hold up like it did when I was a kid, but it definitely changed my life)
15. Holy Grail (Christian, 14 years old, comedy nerd)
14. The Sting (One of the coolest movies about Con artists in the 1930s, classic pairing of Newman/Redford)
13. Fear and loathing in Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam is a favorite, but this movie opened up my mind)
12. A Trip to the Moon (Shorts count, and this one started me on my path to filmmaking)
11. Toy Story (This movie made me wanna be an animator)
10. Burden of Dreams (This movie made me appreciate foreign film and foreign filmmakers)
9. Cinema Paradiso (This movie verified my love of movies)
8.  Mystery Train (Saw this movie in my high school creative writing class, I thought it was the coolest film I had seen to this point)
7. Shadows of a Vampire (I loved this movie, saw it twice in the theater, also my first time at the Rosebud Theater in Milwaukee.  We saw this and Nosferatu back to back as part of my high school film club).
6. Crumb (Crazy talented artist and his crazy talented family?  Sign me up.  This is by far one of the best documentaries ever)
5. Ed Wood (Changed my life, enough said)
4. Back to the Future (Duh!)
3. Reservoir Dogs (See number 5)
2. The Good the Bad and the Ugly (My grandpa made me watch this movie with him, it’s my greatest movie memory)
1. Steamboat Willie (Best Mickey short ever made, revolutionary in so many ways).