Happy Mother's Day Weekend!
At least it will be until people take their unsuspecting mothers to "Moms' Night Out," a screechy, vapid, childish domestic comedy that makes fathers/husbands look bad and mothers/wives look worse.
"Moms' Night Out"★ ½
Starring: Sarah Drew, Patricia Heaton, Trace Adkins, Sean Astin
Directed by: Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin
Other: A Tri-Star Pictures release. Rated PG. 98 minutes
Clearly, "Moms' Night Out" has been designed to relate to young, frazzled mothers who desperately need a break from the escalating chores of daily parenthood.
Yet, not a single major character in "Moms' Night Out" comes close to being likable enough to overcome the buffoonish caricatures created in Jon Erwin and Andrea Nasfell's slight screenplay, unencumbered by wit, insight and humor.
The idea of a mom's night out originates with Allyson ("Grey's Anatomy" actress Sarah Drew), an on-the-ledge mother of three rambunctious kids and wife of busy hubby Sean (Sean Astin) who has checked out of domestic duty.
Allyson persuades her best bud Izzy (although as played by Andrea Logan White, her name should be "Dizzy") and minister's wife Sondra ("The Middle" star and executive producer Patricia Heaton) to go partying and recharge their maternal batteries.
Things do not go well.
At their favorite restaurant, the three women receive flack from a comically snooty hostess (Anjelah Johnson) who refuses them a table.
Back home, Sean proves to be a natural disaster at parenting in the absence of Allyson. Izzy's husband Marco (Robert Amaya) turns white at the mere thought of being left in charge of their offspring.
Soon, Sean telephones Allyson on the way to the emergency room that everything's OK. A beloved pet bird escapes, creating the story's first excuse for a frantic chase.
Meanwhile, Sean's punky sister Bridgette (Abbie Cobb) supplies an additional layer of urgent mayhem when she leaves her baby with her ex-boyfriend Joey (Harry Shum Jr.), who merely drops the infant off at a local tattoo parlor so he can party.
Now on the trail of the missing baby, Allyson, Izzy, Sondra and Bridgette find unlikely allies in a bewildered British cabbie (Heaton's hubby and executive producer David Hunt) and Bones (Trace Adkins), an archetypical, leather-swaddled biker with a basso profundo voice that could crush soda cans.
No doubt all this frenetic nocturnal activity was meant to be a relatively salubrious family version of the comic all-night misadventures to be found in such movies as "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" or "After Hours."
Brothers Andrew Erwin and Jonathan Erwin -- who worked on the respectable 2011 anti-abortion drama "October Baby" -- direct "Moms' Night Out" with such busy, unrelenting chaos that the characters might as well be demolition derby race cars.
At least one scene in "Moms' Night Out" emanates honest drama. Bones the biker, sensing Allyson's self-doubts, sits down with the stressed mother and offers a profoundly spiritual message of reassurance.
"I doubt the good Lord made a mistake by giving your kids the mama he did," Bones says in a voice resonating with a higher authority.
Here, "Moms' Night Out" reaches out to its intended faith-based audiences with powerful restraint.
But it doesn't last long.
Tacked-on revelations (Sean admits Allyson's job as a mom is "important") and a sermonizing finale make "Moms' Night Out" into a faith-based movie with no faith in its viewers to "get" the message -- unless it's force-fed like narrative foie gras.