Outrageously enough, the moral of Moms’ Night Out seems to be that moms should never get a night out. This Mother’s Day weekend release is pretty much a PG-rated The Hangover, but with an ill-fitting God angle that slowly wedges its way into the movie — an agenda that, in retrospect, explains the conspicuous lack of booze, drugs, and sex.
With three kids and a husband on the road, stay-at-home mom Allyson (Sarah Drew) is suffering from what can rightly be categorized as a Glamorous Female Crisis. (This occurs whenever we’re told a character is teetering on the edge of sanity, yet we only ever see her with salon-coiffed hair, a toned bod, and not a circle to darken her under-eye.) So she lays it down for spouse Sean, as in “Sean Astin,” who here is riding on the residual charm of Samwise Gamgee, lest he seem deplorable as this schlubby husband who criticizes his way hotter wife for eating a bag of chocolate.
Allyson and her fellow moms are going out for a nice evening alone — don’t worry, there’s not an Emma Bovary in the bunch. Their already vanilla night is quickly interrupted when their maternal instincts lead them on a circular chase to help rescue a friend’s toddler from unsavory babysitters. Meanwhile, Sean and the other dads are predictably fumbling with their own kids because, well, they’re men, and child-rearing is women’s work, and we shouldn’t play God, and so on and so forth.
Rampant sexism aside, it’s curious how the movie addresses the symptoms but never the cause of Allyson’s unhappiness. She sincerely believes that if she gets to wear her gemstone-encrusted going-out heels for just one night then everything will be OK, but even these small indulgences wrack her and the other mothers with guilt. In the end, a guardian angel stand-in draws our protago-mom back to the light with some choice Bible quotes, but not before the only single working mother in the group gets severely jilted and returns to her man. In a big reunion scene, Sean tells Allyson that her “job” is the most important job. It’s less a compliment than a passive-aggressive plea she never take another night for herself. If she did, the movie insists, all hell would break loose.