It's rare that a movie fails on absolutely every level, but "Moms' Night Out" is a remarkably vivid example. This faith-based family comedy is so thoroughly unskilled, unimaginative and unintentionally grotesque that it's a kind of negative miracle.
"Moms' Night Out" seems intended as an antidote to working-mother comedies like "I Don't Know How She Does It." It takes place in an unnamed, overwhelmingly Caucasian town where only lower-income single moms like Bridget (Abbie Cobb) stoop to wait tables. The movie's real heroine is Ally (Sarah Drew, "Grey's Anatomy"), a stay-at-home mom so overwhelmed by her homemaking chores that she barely has time to blog. After sobbing alone in a closet, Ally convinces her husband, Sean (Sean Astin), to watch the kids while she joins her sullen friend Izzy (Andrea Logan White) and the pastor's wife, Sondra (Patricia Heaton, "The Middle"), for a Saturday night on the town.
Things don't go as planned -- or rather, they follow the precise plans of every "wild night" comedy you've ever seen.
You might expect an occasional chuckle, but the directors of "Moms' Night Out," Jon and Andrew Erwin (billed as The Erwin Brothers), never deliver it. Like the average "American Idol" contestant, they have studied what talented people do but have no understanding of how or why they do it. The Erwins believe that comedy requires screaming, grimacing and flailing, but there's no purpose to all the noise. The actors often seem totally disconnected from their scenes.
One hint of light in the darkness is country singer Trace Adkins as a good-hearted biker named Bones. Adkins has appeared in only a handful of movies (he played a similar role in 2011's "The Lincoln Lawyer"), but even his humble skills cast an Everest-sized shadow across this wretched production. In relative terms, he deserves a standing ovation.
PLOT For three mothers, a kid-free night out goes disastrously wrong.
RATING PG (mild thematic elements and some action)
CAST Sarah Drew, Patricia Heaton, Andrea Logan White
BOTTOM LINE Pudding-bland humor, wretched acting and a lack of basic filmmaking skills make this faith-based comedy worthy of damnation.