Fun Mom Dinner is the kind of title that immediately betrays a film with how thoughtless it is. Entirely unclever and only barely a complete thought, this is the title of a film that has so little going for it that even its name can’t act as an interesting selling point. Of the three words in the title, only one seems to actually apply to the film, and here’s a hint: it isn’t “Fun.”
Ostensibly we have another entry in the raunchy girl’s night out genre, except the hook this time is that our four leads are middle-age women rather than the usual bachelorette thirty-somethings. Molly Shannon plays a single mom obsessed with sharing herself on social media, while Katie Aselton plays up the wife who is unsure of the stability of her marriage. Toni Collette is the bitch mom who turns out to be pretty cool by the night’s end, and Bridget Everett is the anal-retentive parent who finally lets loose outside the company of her kids. These are all archetypal roles that might have lent themselves to some fun chemistry between the leads, but the characters are so thinly sketched that it’s hard to say that any of them exhibit any growth over the course of the film. In fact, some members of this posse start the night hating one another, but rather suddenly become best friends after some shared marijuana for the sake of… shenanigans?
I hesitate to even call them such because the antics these moms run across are relatively tame. Smoking pot in a bathroom, getting rowdy in a bar, and drinking with some teenagers is about as scandalous as these characters get, and this is neither endearing to the characters nor particularly entertaining to watch. The monotony is broken up by a couple of husbands (Adam Scott and Rob Heubel) watching over the kids, but their meditative conversations and lazily improvised jokes don’t offer much by way of relief from what should be the main attraction.
As with any terrible comedy, the biggest problem with Fun Mom Dinner is that it just isn’t funny. Punchline timing and the accompanying edits feel haphazard without any care toward making a joke land, and the jokes, whether written or improvised, are consistently flat, hackneyed, or questionable in their comedic intent. It’s as if these actors—some of whom have proven themselves exceedingly funny elsewhere—were given no direction as to the tone of their scenes and were let loose with a script written with no understanding of how comedy translates to the screen.
Looking to the writing credit for Fun Mom Dinner, one likely doesn’t recognize the name Julie Rudd. That is, however, until one looks to the executive producer’s credits and sees Paul Rudd among them. It’s probably not unfair to assume that this film is the result of a little marital nepotism, a pet project of Julie’s that Paul helped to see the light of day. And you know, had the film turned out to be any good, that wouldn’t be a problem. But Paul Rudd is a very funny comic actor, and I feel he should know better. The result of this production instead turned out to be a waste of time for almost everyone involved, a limp and tiring chore that probably should have unreleased for the sake of their careers. The runtime barely limps over the eighty minute mark, but you wouldn’t know it from how long the failed bits feel. “Mom” is the only accurate word in the film’s title, but nobody loves their mom enough to sit through this.