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Ridiculous “Mom’s Night Out” Can Teach Us Writers a Thing or Two

There are two moms in my family these days: my mother and my younger sister. So naturally, we tailored yesterday for both of them as best as we could.

This included going for a lovely walk, scarfing down Chinese food and watching a movie called Mom’s Night Out – which is utterly hysterical.

The film centers around an OCD, germaphobic stay-at-home mom of three very active children. Trying desperately to keep up with appearances and her own expectations, she’s exhausted out of her mind and not at all happy with her life.

So under her loving but far-from-perfect husband’s prompting, she decides to have a mom’s night out with her best friend and the pastor’s wife. Ally has it all planned out perfectly, starting with reservations at a five-star restaurant in town that everybody raves about.

She’s got her red hair set in the perfect updo. She’s wearing a strappy pair of high-heeled sandals she almost forgot existed. And her little black dress makes her husband gape when he sees her.

But considering how I said the movie was utterly hysterical, I’m sure you already know where this is going. So you won’t be surprised one bit when I recount how her lovely evening goes wrong fast, resulting in stolen minivans, tattoo parlor trips down back alleys and a short stint in the county lockup.

I know that description sounds hokey and farfetched, but Mom’s Night Out somehow manages to be neither. I’ve even heard women say that it greatly resembles their lives – though, admittedly, I don’t think those lovely ladies of my acquaintance have ever gone on high-speed chases or sat in prison waiting rooms being consoled by 6’6” bikers.

Despite all of its absurdity, the film is strangely relatable. And not just for moms.

One of the main reasons why Mom’s Night Out manages to be so fun is because it captures the basic human plight. After all, all of us feel like we’re suffering under some serious Shakespearean slings and arrows from time to time. And all of us go through periods where those complications and frustrations and misunderstandings and failed attempts to be perfect build up until we think we’re going to go out of our already messed-up minds.

During those times, we can’t appreciate what we’ve got even though we know we should. All we can think about is everything we don’t have or can’t have, or do have and can’t get rid of.

Seriously. Who hasn’t felt that way before? And I imagine that moms might feel like that a lot more often than they’ll otherwise admit.

Mom’s Night Out simply does what good fiction is supposed to do. It takes all those real-life feelings and uses them to build a story.

Caught up in the hilarity of watching the movie, I’ll admit I didn’t spend much time analyzing it in the moment. I had no intention whatsoever of using it as an example of anything writing-related, particularly when I already had a very different Mother's-Day inspired post I had begun.

But I do think that the whole relatable aspect is an important one to explore, and Mom’s Night Out brought it into sharp focus for me today.

So the next time you find yourself really enjoying a movie or book or story of any kind, try to analyze it after all of the giggles or gasps. Ask yourself what made it relatable and how it kept that theme going to maintain your interest.

Then try to duplicate that kind of emotional connection in your own fictional accounts.

Oh yeah, and before you do that, make sure to thank your mother even though it’s not Mother’s Day anymore. Chances are high she deserves it regardless.

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