Thinking Out Loud

May 6, 2014

Mom’s Night Out: A Faith-Friendly Comedy

Filed under: media — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:11 am

If you’re like most North American Christians, your media obligations have shifted from the Christian bookstore to the local cinema, and this Friday your family gets another opportunity to visit what has become for many, the sanctuary of choice in 2014.

Moms’ Night Out opens May 9th and contains a broad enough script that there’s something here for women, men and children. Alex Kendrick is in this movie, and one of the problems that female film-goers had with other movies connected to him such as Courageous, Fireproof, Flywheel, and Facing the Giants is that the scripts were far too male; there were firemen, car dealers, football players and policemen, but not so much for feminine tastes. (Count the words beginning with the letter f in that sentence!) October Baby filled the void more recently, but it was a rather subdued, cerebral script that offered little for a male audience.

In Moms’ Night Out that balance has been struck, but a little at the expense of a strong faith message that some might prefer. For that reason, I’m calling this faith-friendly instead of faith-focused, though there are a few scenes which touch on what it’s like to be a pastor’s wife (or a pastor’s daughter) and another scene where some moral teaching arises from an unlikely source.

Moms’ Night Out gives that pastor’s wife role to Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle) who, with her husband David Hunt co-produced the movie with a release date timing out perfectly for Mother’s Day weekend in the U.S. and Canada. Other cast members include Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), and platinum-selling country recording artist Trace Adkins (The Lincoln Lawyer).

When the preview showing ended two weeks ago on Wednesday night, we walked out into Dundas Square in Toronto (a knockoff of Times Square in NYC) and there was that week’s episode of The Middle playing live on one of the jumbo screens. Patrica Heaton was everywhere that night!

The trailer (below) outlines the plot sufficiently; the core of the movie is the stress of being a mother and how men understand so little of what that role entails. It’s about friendship, the image we try to maintain, and how when things go wrong, sometimes they go crazy wrong. The plot does indeed get a little complex near the end, but the whole thing is building like a British comedy, ever-ready to explode.

For all the movie tries to do, it succeeds. I wish the film’s producers the best in what is certainly a budget-stretching time for Christian families who have found themselves buying a lot of movie tickets lately. I expect however this film will find its biggest response among a broader, general audience who are looking for some good clean fun and something they can take the kids to, or something the kids can treat mom to for her special day.

April 26, 2014

Faith Movies in Perspective

I’d never heard of the website Grantland until Sarah Pulliam-Bailey mentioned it yesterday, but there’s some great stats on the faith-based films from the past few years. The article is titled, God’s Not Dead (He’s Playing Now in Movie Theaters). There’s a chart showing some of the current movies in perspective alongside their ‘secular’ counterparts, a chart showing how some of the religious reels fared on opening weekend,

Opening Week Gross Movies Classified as Christian

and a chart showing the total domestic gross for each of those pictures you’ll have to click through to see.

The article is long and raises some good questions:

…But that’s not the entire story. Because there’s the less-glamorous, more uncomfortable side of the story. The how and the why. How are these movies doing well? And why now? It’s near impossible to dive into these questions with a number set, a brief synopsis, a cast list, or even a handful of trailers. Beginning to scratch that surface involves actually seeing these films. Seeing all of them. On the same day. You know, on Easter Sunday.

Which is exactly what Grantland writer Rembert Browne did. Reviews of the four films follow, with the subjectivity that can only be achieved by watching them all at once!

And there’s more to come. On May 9th, Mom’s Night Out opens, and on Wednesday night, we got to attend the first preview showing in Canada. I’ll have more to say about that film in a few days.

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