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Movie Review: “Mom’s Night Out” Pays a Great Homage to Mothers

It’s the film that will have every mother holding back tears as they are recognized and assured that their job as a care taker of their family is valued.

Being a mom is a 24 hour job.  And for Allyson (Sarah Drew), a stay at home mother with 3 children, the chaos never stops.  She is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and questioning her happiness in life.  All of her “dreams” have come true, yet she is miserable?  This is why when her always traveling husband (Sean Astin) is finally in town, she quickly schedules a girl’s night out with her two best friends.  Allyson, her longtime friend Izzy (Logan White) and the pastor’s wife, Sondra (Patricia Heaton) get all gussied up and ready to use their groupon for the most talked about new restaurant.  But of course, this wouldn’t be a fun family film without its obstacles.  What begins with a reservation mix up, goes onto become a night of madness involving car chases, no cell phones, dislocated shoulders, and a search for a missing baby!

It may sound like a lot to take in, but it is all handled in a controlled approach.  You won’t ever really be on the edge of your seat in this film.  The moment you almost think you’re in for some suspense,  it will quickly be squashed by a reaffirming scene that guarantees everything is okay.  Luckily, Mom’s Night Out’s main focus is not about the mystery or how everything can go wrong in one night.  This film is sending a message, surprisingly, a spiritual one that is delivered through small doses of liberal Christian sermons.  These sermons try to disguise themselves as casual conversation that somehow never feels out of place.  Early in the film we meet the three women at church and you are aware this is going to be a faith-based film, geared to resonate with young parents and multigenerational families.

The acting is what saves this film from being a potentially cheesy predictable comedy.  Sarah Drew does a great job embodying a frantic mother who is just about ready to explode at any minute.  While Sean Astin plays a more subtle and less comedic supporting husband role.  I personally enjoyed the relationship between Patricia Heaton’s character and her teenage daughter (Sammi Hanratty).  The two played off each other well, and portrayed one of the more genuine arguments in parenting.  Country singer, Trace Adkins, plays a biker tattoo artist that comes to the women’s rescue at their time of desperation.  He fails when trying to deliver moments of laughter.  But in a climactic scene that is both touching and revealing to the film’s theme, Adkins gives an effortless speech that seemingly comes from the heart as he mentions Jesus and his own mom.  He explains to Allyson that she shouldn’t be so hard on herself, questioning whether or not she’s doing things right.  He continues to say that Allyson’s role as a mom is not one that she chose, but was chosen for her by God.

Mom’s Night Out is specifically meant for moms.  I can’t say a group of teens or even young adults will want to choose this film over Neighbors, or some of the other movies opening this weekend.  But for all the moms who want to feel a great sense of appreciation this Mother’s Day, you would be most satisfied with Mom’s Night Out.

Rating: 3/5

Mom’s Night Out hits theaters May 9.

Mom’s Night Out Official Trailer HD

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Movie Review: “I’m in Love with a Church Girl” is a Lackluster Film with a Spiritual Message

Despite the title, I actually wanted to like I’m in Love with a Church Girl.  I am always more intrigued when a script is based on the writer’s personal experience.  Unfortunately, the terrible acting and painfully cheesy dialogue over powers the dominant meaning behind this story.

Miles Montego (Ja Rule) is a retired high level drug trafficker who has turned a new leaf, and is now working in a profession that is legal.  But for some reason, the DEA does not seem to believe Miles has changed; and has decided to keep a close eye on him.  To make matters worse, Miles is still close to his group of friends/former partners in crime that have not left the dangerous business. While trying to stay on the right side of the law, Miles meets Vanessa Leon (Adrienne Bailon).  Adrienne is different from all the girls he has dated.  He is drawn to her beauty and her faith.   Of course, this relationship is not an easy one.  As Miles is torn between his past life and the life he wants, Vanessa struggles with spending a life with someone who does not share her faith in God.

Writer and producer, Galley Molina, wrote the script while he was serving time in prison.  At first, it was suppose to be a book.  Eventually, the story turned into a film that Molina financed himself so he could have more creative control.   He even rejected an offer from a major studio, because they wanted to embellish on his drug dealing days.   Sadly, I think that might have made for a more engaging story.  I get that he wanted to focus on the journey he had to redemption.  But given the situation, the audience would have appreciated seeing the gritty details that Miles had clearly been dealing with before “surrendering himself to God”.

The film is rated PG and geared toward a more faith-based audience.  So, I can see how they would want to keep things as clean as possible.  But if I’m going to see a film about second chances, I want to see what actions you did before that needed redemption.  The entire film only referenced Miles’ dark past.  We never saw any drugs, let alone hear about what specifically they were dealing.  Since they only alluded to the crimes, the DEA seemed even more random when they would appear on screen.  I kept feeling bad for Miles.  Through out the film he is a sweet, caring guy.  Then all the sudden bad things happen to the people in his life and he is praying that he be punished for his sins instead of them.   I missed the yearning for redemption I would usually want for the protagonist.

Stephen Baldwin plays Jason McDaniels, a DEA in charge of the case on Miles.  Molina chose Baldwin and Bailon for the film because of their “strong Christian backgrounds and for their talents.” I do not know exactly where that talent went when Baldwin was shooting this film.  He might as well have been asleep in each of his scenes.  There was no effort in any of his line delivery.  Yes he was given corny, cliché dialogue, but he just acted like he did not want to be there.  I’m going to avoid talking about the rest of the obviously first time actors, that includes “dear in the head lights” Mr. Loen, and skip straight to the leads.  Ja Rule was a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of his inexperienced cast.  He did the best he could with what he was given, and something tells me he could have handled a more intense script.  Adrienne Bailon was her usual bubbly, head bopping self.  She is beautiful, and she has a lot of energy which makes her likeable to watch.  If the supporting cast put half as much energy into their performance as she did, the film might have been more entertaining.

I’m in Love with a Church Girl has a beautiful message about how God accepts you the way you are, no matter what sins you have done in the past.  I just wish we could have seen what all Molina had to overcome before finally letting God into his life.  He has a great story to tell.  But the movie version of it is so focused on the end result, that we miss all the excitement and the care; which leads to an anti-climactic conclusion.

I’m in Love with a Church Girl  is in theaters October 18th.

I’m in Love with a Church Girl Trailer HD

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