Review: Fun Mom Dinner dir. Alethea Jones
Can you still have a girl’s night out even when you’re pushing 40 and up to your neck in kids? Armed with an all-star cast, Fun Mom Dinner is the latest show to tackle the more niche cinema audience, attempting to draw in the middle-aged crowd and prove that yes, moms can have fun.
Fun Mom Dinner follows the exploits of four moms as they arrange for a titular fun mom dinner, a single night away from the responsibilities of their kids and husbands, and bond over their shared experiences. Newly divorced Jamie (Molly Shannon) is a hip mom at the forefront of social media, leading the pack to the coolest dinner venue. Super mom Melanie (Bridget Everett) is a sassy woman who has it all together and knows how to have fun, stressed out mom Emily (Katie Aselton) struggles with keeping her life together and a boring, sexless marriage to Tom (a charming Adam Scott), and the motley crew rounds off with her best friend Kate (Toni Collette), a social outcast and seemingly, the most tired of the moms with four kids in tow.
With their only shared point of bondage being their kids going to the same preschool, the fun mom dinner begins about as uncomfortably as an awkward family dinner, with plenty of tension in the air and conversations that go nowhere. But as the night wears on, the moms let loose a little more with the help of quality substances, alcohol, bathroom conversations and a strikingly gorgeous bartender (Adam Levine), and find in each other a special kinship…after a series of mishaps and misadventures of course.
Although a little unsteady at times, Fun Mom Dinner aims straight for the jugular with its heady 80s soundtrack, appealing to a crowd that had their singles heyday in that same era and long to recreate the halcyon days of the past. Similarly, it succeeds best when its cast is relaxed and has fun. It’s impossible not to break out into a wide grin seeing all four women get up onstage and sing Nena’s ’99 Luftballoons’.
Julie Rudd’s script is relatively tame compared to other films in the same vein – the moms never do anything that’s worthy of a lifetime of regret or really raise the stakes to particularly risky levels. The shift from awkward conversation to sisterhood is also a little forced, requiring audiences to have a little suspension of disbelief to accept that these women have just as suddenly become fast friends, from their initial apprehension established in the film’s opening scenes. The film’s subplot following the husbands’ babysitting of the kids also fails to pay off narratively, at best providing for a few cute moments for the child actors. But ultimately, it is each of the main cast member’s commitment to the role and chemistry they have with each other that makes the resulting sisterhood believable enough to enjoy and root for.
Each and every one of the moms have their time to shine: you’ll be cheering for Bridget Everett’s cannonball of energy as go-getter Mel, decked out in a unicorn onesie and the heart of the group, while Toni Collette’s Kate takes a while to warm up to – suspicious and reluctant to join the group at the start, but eventually leaving all her fears behind and endearing with her no-nonsense attitude and revealing the heart beneath her cold exterior. Molly Shannon’s Jamie is a joy to watch as every emotion plays out on her face throughout the film, and Katie Anselton easily invites sympathy for Emily as she struggles with technology and plays it straight and sincere, evoking the pang of missed opportunities as she wonders how different her life might have turned out should she not have pursued motherhood. All of this culminates in a surprisingly accessible way as the sun rises and the moms bond over a game of ‘Never Have I Ever’, and their worries are washed away as they shake off the drugs and alcohol and return to normal life.
Fun Mom Dinner is ultimately the kind of show that’s perfect for a Saturday night in, perhaps best enjoyed during a get together with the girls and equipped with a bottle of red from the supermarket. There may be exciting moments, but Fun Mom Dinner is not a no holds barred crazy girls night out. Rather, much like its own title, acts as a simple distraction from the droll of everyday routine, reassuring in its family values, happy ending, and its ongoing emphasis on the importance of sisterhood in all stages of one’s life.
We’re giving away a digital copy of Fun Mom Dinner to TWO lucky readers so you can catch it in the comfort of your own home with your friends! All you have to do is:
Winners will be notified via Facebook 🙂
Fun Mom Dinner is available to watch on Digital Download from 7th August here