“Well what did you fully expect?” I hear you asking already, “did you really think Fun Mom Dinner would turn out to be a secret masterpiece?” No, of course I didn’t but I will be honest, it did surprise me. Ever since Bridesmaids was the success it was, the ‘women behaving badly’ comedy sub-genre seems to have exploded as studio executives lined up to prove that women can be asked to deliver just as many tired sex jokes and overwritten set pieces as men can. The brainchild of Julie Rudd, Fun Mom Dinner is a movie about four Moms who go for a fun dinner, they start off having differences but by the end of the evening they’re friends. Spoilers, probably
It’s worth giving credit to the cast who make the whole endeavour surprisingly watchable with a certain regard going to Bridget Everett, a cabaret performer who while hampered by a script that reins her in too much, shows frequent flashes of the vibrant energy of her breakout segments on Inside Amy Schumer. It also seems quietly noteworthy that despite being a plus sized performer, the film never resorts to easy fat jokes. Aselton, Shannon and Collette, all pros who could handle this material in their sleep commit to their performances adding unexpected shading to their boilerplate characterisation and filling the background with plenty of reliable hands like Adam Scott, Rob Huebel, Paul Rust, David Wain, Claudia O’Doherty, John Early and (husband of the writer) Paul Rudd is much to the film’s benefit as they at least know their way around a punchline. What Maroon 5’s Adam Levine is doing there is anyone’s guess.
Sadly the film’s main failure is that it’s just not very interesting. It has a grain of truth at the centre of it that people with young kids can hit a point where they don’t need a major evening, where simply a fun night out is enough and it’s admirable that it doesn’t quite stick to the ‘night out from hell’ cliché but what it gains by being nice, it also happens to detract by being too nice to the point where it’s just a little dull. Equally, for all its attempts to be modern, it has one too many jokes about practices like ‘vajazzling’, something I don’t know whether any of us have thought about in seven years.
Ultimately, this is the sort of film that lives or dies on whether its funny or not. For all its sincere attempts to genuinely respect the role of the mom, it struggles to hold together enough to be a recommendable way to spend your eighty-something minutes. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did, I wanted to be surprised and engaged by it. Sadly a thoroughly entertaining cast couldn’t make up for a distinct lack of genuine invention from anyone behind the camera. It’s nice to see a comedy where the joke is being told by and is not at the expense of the characters, it’s just a shame the joke isn’t funny enough.
Dir: Alethea Jones
Scr: Julie Yaeger Rudd
Cast: Toni Collette, Molly Shannon, Bridget Everett, Katie Aselton, Adam Scott, Rob Huebel, Adam Levine, Paul Rust
Prd: Andew Duncan, Alex Saks, Naomi Scott
DOP: Sean McElwee
Music: Julian Wass
Run time: 89 minutes
Fun Mom Dinner is Out on DVD, Blu-Ray & Digital Download from August 7th.