Mom’s Night Out stars Patricia Heaton as one of a few overwhelmed stay-at-home moms who have adoring, lovely husbands (one of whom is played by Sean Astin) who are incompetent fathers who can’t be trusted with their goddamn children (sorry for the blasphemy). The incompetence of the fathers shifts all the child-rearing duties on to the mothers, who are paralyzed by stress before one of the moms, Allyson (Sarah Drew), insists on a mom’s night out. Doing so means leaving those children with their shitty husbands to babysit, which naturally results in an overstressed Mom’s night out in which they end up having to clean up with the messes left by the Dads.
It’s a Mother’s Day movie, and it’s also a religious film, and I should probably just stop with that because once that is evident, we kind of know where we stand. But I won’t stop because while I appreciate the the earnest intention of a movie attempting to highlight the importance of a Mother’s role in the upbringing of their children, frankly it rubs me the wrong way that it does so at the expense of the fathers, whose parental contributions are completely devalued (under their care, one child goes missing, another child ends up being pulled out of an arcade game by paramedics, and the rest of the kids all end up in jail with their fathers).
I should simply agree to disagree with the values propagated by the Christian church here, but I still have a difficult time fathoming the notion that Jesus would promote a film that suggests that the only role a father plays in the home is to provide the income, while the sole burden of shaping and molding the children is upon the mother, who stands to receive all the credit — or the blame — for the ultimate outcome.
That’s a lot of pressure for the Church to place on the mom, and some dangerous and unfair bullshit to be peddling. It’s only made worse — in my opinion — by the fact that Mom’s Night Out also reinforces the notion that wives should always listen to their husbands. But in addition to obeying and honoring their husbands, it’s a woman’s obligation to simply be herself — as Jesus says through Trace Adkins’ motorcycle-riding, tattoo artist sage — as long as “being herself” means devoting her life to caring for her children, and maybe posting on her mommy blog when a spare minute avails itself.
It’s a bad film, and I seriously doubt that anyone would need a review to understand that. But it also delivers a shitty message to the 77 percent of mothers in the United States who do not — or can’t, or don’t want to — stay at home with their children, among them Patricia Heaton who had four young children while she was working on Everyone Loves Raymond. That message is this: Take care of your kids, don’t trust your husbands with them, and you can then reap all the rewards of being solely responsible for cleaning house, making meals, toting your children around, and listening to them scream and yell during those infrequent moments of peace while they’re adorably pushing a bowling ball down a lane.
In other words, your job is important, Mom, unless your job is to earn a fucking living.