I am trying to figure out why I disliked Fun Mom Dinner so much. It's not that it isn't funny enough for a comedy, although it isn't. It's not that the cast are largely wasted, although they are. And it's certainly not that the whole thing ambles along towards a hugely predictable third act, although it does. I think it is all of these things and more. Mainly, it feels like someone saw the success of Bad Moms and tried to copy that "formula", and they failed.
The plot revolves around four mothers. They are stuck-in-a-rut Emily (Katie Aselton), single oversharer Jamie (Molly Shannon), grumpy Kate (Toni Collette), and a woman who can be relied on to run everything with military precision when need be, named Melanie (Bridget Everett). They all end up on a big night out while their kids are being looked after, drink flows, weed is smoked, and confessions are delivered in ways that allow the women to view each other in a different light. Basically. There are a few sub-plots (one involving two of the hubbies - Adam Scott and Rob Huebel - who are watching the kids, one involving a barman - Adam Levine - who takes a liking to Emily, and one involving a sweet guy played by Paul Rust) but they all feel clumsily inserted, and all continue to serve the lessons being learned about mothers still being women too.
Director Alethea Jones doesn't really do much wrong here, in terms of the technical stuff. The pacing is fine, the camera points in the right direction, and there are a couple of familiar pop hits in the soundtrack (although one of the better songs is used for a godawful karaoke scene). One of the biggest problems that the film has is the cast.
It's not that Aselton is bad, she's just not a very appealing lead. She is far too bland to bother about, as is the character she plays. Collette deserves much better than the material she's given here, as does the usually wonderful Shannon. Everett gets some of the best moments, and she fares the best out of the central quartet, perhaps because I wasn't familiar with her before this. Strangely, the male cast members fare a lot better, with Scott and Huebel a lot of fun, and Levine and Rust both managing to come across as nice guys with different ways of connecting with the women.
Which brings us to the other big problem here. The script. Written by Julie Rudd (and at least her husband, Paul, stops by to steal one scene), there just isn't enough here that works, largely due to the lack of decent laughs. The rest of the problems would be easier to forgive if the film remembered that it was a comedy. Almost every mainstream comedy has the standard chain of events leading to the group bonding, the pop music to either bring joy to the main characters or accompany a fun montage, and a clash of two very different demographics (as in the scene in which these mothers inadvertently crash a teen party). Those things are all fine and enjoyable enough, if done well.
Sure, if you find this available for free then you may want to give it a watch. But I am willing to bet that by the time the end credits roll you just wish that you'd rewatched Bad Moms. Not that this film was ever aiming to be that film, I can imagine someone telling me, . . . but we all know that it was.
Here's a disc available in America, if you really want it.