All white on the night ……
Somewhere in the middle of Fun Mom Dinner one of the four women on a ladies’ night out utters the immortal line “this looks terrible.” A quick look at the promotional materials for this straight-to-digital offering will have you thinking the same thing.
Any film that gets underway with a visual gag about baby poop – you can imagine what happens – isn’t exactly promising much. Certainly not the occasional flash of wit or subtlety. If anything, the opening credits for this one look like they’ve been stolen wholesale from a 70s TV comedy series: it’s all photographs of the characters from way back when. They – and this film – have all been done before.
So, at the centre of the story are four stressed moms on a night out. Single mom Jamie (Molly Sheridan), obsessed with her phone and with finding another man. Big, blousy, tough mom Melanie (Bridget Everett). Unhappy mom Emily (Kate Aselton), who married her teenage sweetheart and now finds they’re stuck in a rut. And Kate (Toni Collette), affluent, snooty but not averse to a joint or two. The dinner doesn’t get off to a great start, because Kate and Melanie don’t get on but, once they’re put their differences to one side, they’re all in for an evening of drink, karaoke and some self-discovery. In the meantime, two of the husbands stay at home with the children.
The four fit into neat, tidy boxes and, at times, are more caricature than characters. Emily is to the fore most of the time, as she works out what she wants to do about her marriage – with a little help from an easy-on-the-eye barman played by Adam Levine. Not that you can’t see how it’s all going to pan out. It’s her husband, along with Kate’s, who is back at home with the kids but, for some unaccountable reason, we never see Melanie’s other half. Perhaps debut writer Kathy Rudd thought she was a big enough character on her own.
And, indeed, the four women are fun. More importantly, they save the whole thing from disaster. Bridget Everett in particular gives us a taste of what to expect next month in Patti Cake$, but you do have to wonder why a cast like this signed up for a film which is short on laughs and seems to confuse ripe language with comedy. There’s also a surprise cameo from the ever-charming Paul Rudd as a kosher dope dealer. But what will send your eyebrows sky high is that all the main characters are white – another sign that the film belongs to another decade.
Patchy, uninspired and dated, Fun Mom Dinner is the kind of movie best watched with something alcoholic and sparkling – and a few chocs on the side. It’s more palatable that way.
Fun Mom Dinner is available on digital download on Monday, 7 August.