I wrote here about some reasons why we might want to give Christian films a break. I am excited to say that you won’t need to extend a lot of grace to Moms’ Night Out, because it does a pretty good job of standing on its own two feet! Part of that, I am sure, is that the success of previous films provided a more substantial operating budget for this film, which allowed for paid actors. Not to mention the fact that the Kendrick brothers have several films under their belt and are improving and maturing with experience. Moms’ Night Out was a cute, hilarious, outrageous comedy of errors. It was also poignant and brought me to tears…and I’m not even a mom! AND…it did all of this without once resulting to the gutter laughs and raunchy standby’s most other movies in its genre do. So refreshing!!!
I’m not a mom, but I am a woman, and I think it’s epidemic for women to be hard on themselves. In fact, in John and Stasi Eldredge’s book, Captivating, the book begins by talking about this.
I know I am not alone in this nagging sense of failing to measure up, a feeling of not being good enough as a woman. Every woman I’ve ever met feels it—something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.
After all, if we were better women—whatever that means—life wouldn’t be so hard. Right? We wouldn’t have so many struggles; there would be less sorrow in our hearts. Why is it so hard to create meaningful friendships and sustain them? Why do our days seem so unimportant, filled not with romance and adventure but with duties and demands? We feel unseen, even by those who are closest to us. We feel unsought—that no one has the passion or the courage to pursue us, to get past our messiness to find the woman deep inside. And we feel uncertain—uncertain what it even means to be a woman; uncertain what it truly means to be feminine; uncertain if we are or ever will be.
This feeling of inadequacy and striving to measure up as a woman, and particularly as a mom, is at the heart of Moms’ Night Out, and I suspect it’s at the heart of every mom I know.
Type-A-intense-perfectionist-and-clean-freak-but-adorable-Allyson is on the verge of a melt down. “I can’t get in front of it no matter how much I give, how much I do… I just, I’m not enough,” she says. She doesn’t get it. She has the very life she dreamed of, so why isn’t she happy? Her husband encourages her to follow the stewardess’ advice…put the oxygen mask on herself first, if she is going to do be able to save anyone else. So, in search of her own oxygen mask, so to speak, Allyson recruits her best friend and the pastor’s wife (who she thinks is perfect!) to go out…a Moms’ Night Out.
It turns into a beautiful disaster. Everything goes wrong, but in the hilarious caper that ensues, they all begin to learn some things about each other, and themselves…mostly to extend grace to themselves.
Actually, it’s Bones, the former-choir-boy-turned-biker-rebel-tough-guy who is surprisingly deep and tender (brilliantly played by Trace Adkins) that gets the best moments here. He points out to Allyson that the only person she doesn’t measure up to is herself. She’s her toughest critic. He tells her, “You know, I saw something on Pinterest the other day…” (which was hilarious)… it was a video of a mother eagle was taking care of her baby. One she and her friends had also been captivated by, touched by how “in the moment” that mother was, worrying about nothing but taking care of her child. “It’s beautiful to watch one of God’s creations just doing what it was made to do.” Bones says. “Ya’ll spend so much time beating yourselves up. I doubt the good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mom he did.”
I don’t know, maybe it was what he said, or the timing in the movie, or just something about Trace Adkins himself (I lean toward the latter)…but hearing that deep, beautiful, calming voice come out of that great, big, teddy bear man made me want to nestle up next to him and let him tell me that it’s Ok….I’m not a failure and God didn’t make a mistake when he made me, or when he entrusted me with the life I’ve been given. He is so strong and manly and yet fatherly and tender… when he spoke, I don’t think Allyson was the only one he was speaking to…somehow I think every woman in the audience felt like he was talking to them…or that he could be.
Usually I use these reviews to pull out some hidden parallel between the movie and the Christian story. This movie doesn’t need that. For one thing, it’s connections to faith are obviously stated, so there’s no “extraction” necessary. Secondly though, this movie isn’t so much about theological truths as it is the heart, specifically the woman’s heart. The gem in this movie is going to be the opportunity to talk with your other friends about their continual striving and feelings of failure, and learning to accept God’s love and grace for yourselves. Well, that and the opportunity to just have a good belly laugh with out the extra helping of embarrassment and raunch.
If you haven’t yet, take some girl friends and go see it. Laugh. Be encouraged. Fall in love with Trace Adkins. You’ll be glad you did and your financial support of this movie will help ensure the next project they take on will be even more quality! (Just an added bonus.)
Questions for Discussion:
- Which of the moms did you relate to most? Why?
- Who are the Sondra’s in your life? The women who seem to have it all together that you look up to? Do they inspire you or do you feel shame for not being like them? What do you know about their struggles? Have you ever asked these super women to be transparent with you about their life and struggles?
- Single mom Bridget (Allyson’s sister-in-law) felt judged and criticized by Allyson—and she was right. What changed in their relationship? Who do you most relate to in this scenario and why?
- Who are the Bridget’s around you that you can help and encourage?
- Do you find it hard to take time to put the oxygen mask on yourself? Is it hard for you to break away from saving the world to be sure you are healthy yourself?
- Why was the mama eagle such a big deal to the moms in this movie? What do you think they were saying with that?
- Do you feel inadequate as a woman and/or as a mom? Why? Do you think you are failing others or are you failing yourself?
- Bones said there was something beautiful about watching one of God’s creatures just simply do what it was created to do. What do you think you were created to do? Are you doing it? Are you trying to do more or other than you were created to do? How is that working out for you?
- Allyson said her life didn’t change to make her happy. She changed. What are the things she changed? Would those changes help you, too?
 Eldredge, John and Stasi. Captivating, Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005. (p7)
 When I imagine what it would be like to hear something from God the Father (not Jesus, but the Father)…it is something a little like that talk with Bones in Moms’ Night Out.