Moms’ Night Out co-director Jon Erwin has a simple message for critics who slammed his film for what the stay-at-home mom character supposedly represents.
“You’re not offending me and my movie. You’re offending tens of millions of women including my wife,” Jon Erwin told Breitbart News.
A number of prominent film critics, including those working for RogerEbert.com and The Washington Post, didn’t merely give Jon and Andy Erwin’s comedy poor reviews. They excoriated the PG-rated film’s values and world view.
The quote that sticks in the brothers’ craw is the opening line from Christy Lemire’s review at RogerEbert.com–she calls the film “depressingly regressive and borderline dangerous.”
Moms’ Night Out stars Sarah Drew and Patricia Heaton as moms trying to enjoy a rare evening out. A series of complications ensue, and suddenly their carefree night is a parent’s worst nightmare. The story slips in a faith-friendly message along the way, but it’s nowhere near as overt as recent films like God’s Not Dead and Heaven Is for Real.
Jon Erwin defends the film, saying its purpose is to honor moms and give them a few laughs along the way.
“At no point in time does the stay-at-home character convince anyone else to be a stay-at-home mom,” he says, adding one of the mothers prominently featured in the film is a strong single parent.
Real feminism, Andy Erwin says, is letting women choose whether they want to pursue a career or stay home with their children.
“It’s interesting to see the lack of tolerance [in the reviews],” Andy Erwin says. “It’s just a family comedy. Our point was to entertain and serve an under-served market. Stay at home moms are an important part of society.”
“It’s a symptom of a much deeper issue,” Jon Erwin says, one he adds is echoed across the cultural landscape with incidents involving a pair of Christian TV hosts losing a gig for speaking openly about their faith. The message, he says, is inescapable and utterly intolerant. “Just the portrayal of the life I’m living is offensive and dangerous.”
The brothers’ concerns regarding the reviews point to a larger concern within the film community. Jon Erwin says he has met with conservatives working in Hollywood–from actors and screenwriters to key grips–who describe a work environment that’s anything but open to those with opposing views.
“They’ll tell stories, sometimes in tears, of being fired for their beliefs, being bullied and berated,” he says. “It’s time to speak the truth. Is this the country any of us want to live in?”
In short, an industry which often speaks in a single voice against bullying has no qualms bullying those who don’t share their beliefs, Jon Erwin says.
“It’s bigotry, and it’s inconsistent with the platform they say they stand for,” he says.
Andy Erwin says audiences are embracing Moms’ Night Out despite the critical maelstrom. He points to impressive CinemaScore numbers as well as a Facebook page brimming with accolades–more than 1.3 million visitors are talking about it. The brothers plan to keep on serving the faith-friendly audience no matter what critics say.
“We want to bring Frank Capra back … that voice of optimism and hope and values,” Jon Erwin says. “In the age of the antihero I need hope in entertainment.”