The filmmaking brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin (October Baby) team up again to direct and produce this comedy. This 98-minute laugh fest sustains impressive energy with fun running gags, impressive comic timing, helpful film editing, and endlessly entertaining situations.
Jon Erwin also co-writes an engaging screenplay with Andrea Gyertson Nasfell (Christmas Angel, What If…) as Sarah Drew (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy) impressively stars in the lead role of Allyson, a mother struggling to find her personal and emotional footing amid her frenetic family life. She anchors this film well with a genuine performance filled with challenging emotional states as well as flat out physical comedy.
Her best friend Izzy, played by Andrea Logan White, and Pastor’s wife, played by Patricia Heaton, plan a night out that predictably does not go according to plan. After the numerous character introductions, the directions and situations offer unpredictable plot lines as the kids are cared for by the wives’ husbands, lead by Allyson’s husband Sean, played by Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) who emits a very comfortable, relatable aura, which audiences can easily relate to on a personal level when reflecting their own lives.
Sean’s half sister Bridgette, played by Abbie Cobb (TV’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Suburgatory), adds an important situation to the plot while creating some natural tension with Allyson.
Harry Shum Jr. plays Joey who is dating Bridgette and Robert Amaya (Courageous) plays Izzy’s husband.
All the performances are very credible, so it’s odd that Heaton throws off the acting off a little with a slight southern accent that jumps in and out of her performance. Sammi Hanratty plays her daughter Zoe. Alex Kendrick makes a great addition as Pastor Ray as he and other fellow filmmakers/producers (e.g. Kevin Downes as Sean’s video game loving friend) can stretch their acting skills while assisting the Erwin brothers in the filmmaking.
Some fantasy sequences, text graphics, and video clips help establish the characters and their life states quickly, so the comedy has time to really take hold of your funny bones. I would think the cast and crew attained a certain comfort zone with so many capable filmmakers on the set at any given time. Their skills had largely positive effects except for some editing during the interior sequences in the police station.
Co-executive producer David Hunt also plays a memorable taxi driver in the film and is Heaton’s real life husband. Trace Adkins plays Bones, the owner of a local tattoo parlor and a motorcycle gang member who has a slightly heroic role that echoes his small, yet memorable performance in The Lincoln Lawyer. His magnetic personality and strong acting skills enhance the film’s emotions and realism.
The supporting roles are small, but contain plenty of memorable dialogue and include Jason Burkey as a bowling alley DJ, Manwell Reyes as the tattoo parlor desk clerk, and Anjelah Johnson-Reyes as a restaurant hostess.
Marc Fantini and Steffan Fantini (TV’s Criminal Minds and Army Wives) compose the musical score while the film also features a huge song soundtrack including titles from artists like Francesca Battistelli. Kristopher Kimlin provides excellent cinematography while the crew camera operators and second unit directors capture some memorable scenes that climax into some laugh riots.
This film has genuine moments, great comedy, and authentic situations that won’t make you feel uncomfortable because there is no inappropriate content to make you feel uncomfortable. Recommended (***) and rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler