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'Moms' heavy on faith, not laughs

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
TriStar Pictures
Logan White, Patricia Heaton, Abbie Cobb and Sarah Drew and in 'Moms' Night Out'

Faith-based films have become downright commonplace this year. But faith-based comedies that work? That's still a very short list — the George Burns blockbuster “Oh God” and Andy Griffith's “Angel in my Pocket” are the only two to come to mind.

“Moms' Night Out” doesn't join their ranks. A PG-rated romp that never romps, it lacks the jokes, sight gags, pacing and performances that are the stuff laughs are made of.

But when you're sending three mothers out for an “epic” night on the town, and you're abstaining from alcohol, profanity and jokes about sex, you'd better make sure the gags you do include are killer, and that you've got a cast that can land those laughs.

Sarah Drew plays Ally, a stressed-out mother of three pre-school-age tykes, a “mommy blogger” who brags online about being “a clean freak” who can “actually feel the house getting dirty,” but whose reality doesn't measure up to that.

Her house is a wreck, her husband (Sean Astin) is always traveling and the kids are barely under control. And, every so often, she loses it.

She's unhappy, so her husband urges her to take a night for herself. She talks her mother-of-two pal Izzy (Logan White) and, oddly, that icon of motherly virtue, her pastor's wife (Patricia Heaton), into a girls' night out “to remember.”

As the night runs from losing their reservation at a pretentious restaurant to losing their phones to losing their minivan to losing a baby and their husbands losing their minds, overwhelmed by simple child care, “Moms' Night Out” sets itself up for laughs that it rarely delivers.

The tattoo parlor is when “Moms' Night Out” starts to find its funny bone. Christian singer Manwell Reyes is hilarious as a goofball receptionist, and country singer Trace Adkins kills as a brassy, no-nonsense biker-tattoo artist named Bones. Bones, who has a hint of hellraiser about him, thinks he knows the straight-laced Sondra from somewhere.

The very best gag suggests a more promising direction the film might have taken. Heaton's Sondra panics when a pile of empty beer bottles is left on their table at a bowling alley. She can't have her parishioners thinking she drinks. A whole night of a “perfect” preacher's wife/mom trying to protect her reputation might have been funny. Especially with Bones along for the ride.

Roger Moore is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

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