Well, there’s moms (*mums). And there’s dinner. But there’s very little fun to be had.
Fun Mom Dinner (2017) is a ‘comedy’ written by Julie Rudd and directed by Alethea Jones (directorial debut). It stars Toni Collette, Katie Aselton, Bridget Everett and Molly Shannon as four mums who meet at their children’s kindergarten and decide to get together one evening for a ‘fun mum dinner’.
Well I didn’t have to look very hard to find my least favourite film of the festival. In my own defence I wasn’t interested in this movie at all, but extraneous circumstances forced me to see it and here we are. And if anything good comes out of this, at least I can recommend to everyone else to avoid this ‘comedy’ like the plague because what’s on display here offers nothing original, well constructed or even particularly funny.
I say ‘comedy’ because while this film laments itself as a comedy, you wouldn’t know it by how the movie is put together. Sure, there are jokes and comedic elements to be mined but the direction and delivery mute any funny material the script might’ve had. Its hard to describe but there’s a rhythm and pace regarding how to deliver jokes and none of that seems to exist in Fun Mom Dinner. Its unfortunate, but director Jones really doesn’t have a strong grip on how to direct comedy and it shows through painfully unfunny lines and exchanges which in the right hands might’ve actually gotten a few laughs. That’s not to say the jokes here are funny on paper – a solid 90-95% of them aren’t – but there’s at least a few amusing tidbits writer Julie Rudd tucked away in the screenplay that just fall flat on screen.
And not only that, but the screenplay is a mess of unresolved plot-lines and hap-hazard ideas. The film slowly limps from one unfunny scenario to another, completely and totally forgetting storylines moments after they’re set up. The movie actually follows two parallel stories for most of its runtime – the ‘fun mums’ and their dinner-related hi-jinks and two of the husbands locked outside at home. In an ironic twist, the dads are considerably more entertaining than the mums, but as the movie goes on it just slowly forgets they exist to the point that their plot-line is never resolved. The film just randomly cuts away and we barely hear from them ever again. Its bafflingly bad writing and could’ve been fixed with a single re-write from a half-way decent screenwriter.
The one thing this movie might’ve had going for it from the get-go was the cast, but even they’re squandered. With the exception of Everett, I’ve seen the entire cast be excellent in other work but here they’re just wasted on a bad movie and cookie-cutter characters. They don’t necessarily deliver bad performances, but instead never get the chance to deliver good performances either. Everything from the direction they were given to the editing squanders and nullifies any talent they might’ve had otherwise and its a damn shame because seeing a decent cast like this really get to flex would’ve made for a much better movie.
So overall Bad Moms Dinner isn’t a dumpster fire of ‘so-bad-its-good’ but instead exists in the even worse realm of ‘so-bad-its-forgettable’. While there may be a handful of a funny lines and a talented cast desperately trying to claw its way out of this muck, overall the movie just cannot escape how awful its script and direction is. This is a dinner date well worth avoiding.
General Audiences: Not Recommended
Film Buffs: Burn it