Interview: Sarah Drew of “Moms’ Night Out”

Posted on May 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Sarah Drew stars in the delightful “Moms’ Night Out.”  I was thrilled to get a chance to interview her.

© 2014 AFFIRM Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment & Provident Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
© 2014 AFFIRM Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment & Provident Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

One of my favorite things about this movie was the way it avoided the usual daffy misunderstandings between the married couples.  Allyson and her husband were wonderfully supportive of each other and really understood each other?  How did you and Sean Astin work together to create such a natural chemistry?

I think we just clicked right away. We had a meeting with the directors the day before we started shooting to work through our scenes and found ourselves finishing each other’s sentences. I think we have many years of marriage under our belts. Sean has been married for over 20 years and I’ve been married for 12, so we get how loving couples communicate. We both brought ourselves and our experiences to the table as we created our onscreen relationship.

Is it important for moms to have a night off?  Why?

Yes! Motherhood is often times very isolating. You can feel trapped in the house having toddler conversations as your only form of communication. I think we need to go out, be with other moms and remember that we are all in this together. We are not alone and we are not crazy and this mom thing is hard. It’s important to be able to blow off steam and remember that we have an identity beyond the little people that occupy so much of our time. It’s healing and rejuvenating to make that space for ourselves.

Your character Allyson is very tough on herself.  Is that an occupational hazard for moms?

Oh man… Mommy guilt is no joke! I know that first hand. I think we all walk into motherhood hoping that we are gonna be the world’s greatest mom and then we are faced with tiny people who give you no clear indication that what you are doing is ever right or wrong. It’s really hard to measure success as a mom and it’s really hard to gauge whether we are doing it right. While attempting to breast feed, I felt like the world’s biggest failure. While working, I feel like I’m not present enough for my son. While sleep training, I felt like everything I was doing was wrong and then I would get mad at myself for feeling frustrated. Motherhood is beautiful… My child is beautiful… Shouldn’t I be grateful every minute of every day? Well, no… I don’t always feel grateful and happy. Sometimes I feel like tearing my hair out and then I feel guilty for feeling like tearing my hair out. We moms need to be kinder to ourselves. My sweet husband reminds me of this almost on a daily basis, but it is still a challenge.

Did making this movie affect your own thoughts about being a mother?

Yes. I think I preach the message of the movie to myself daily and the message is in my heart because I got to make the movie. “I am enough. I’m a mess but I’m a beautiful mess. I’m His masterpiece. And that’s enough”.

One of the funniest scenes in the movie is at the restaurant with the wonderful Anjelah Johnson.  Was some of that ad lib?  What was it like to film that scene?

Anjelah came to work that day with a bunch of hilarious ideas. She was so brilliant. Comedy is hard to do, and this scene was one of the ones that I was the most nervous about. You want to keep the scene rooted in reality, so it can’t be too over the top, but it has to be extreme enough to still be funny. It was a tricky line to walk but I’m really glad I had such a talented acting partner to work it out with.

Is there a difference in the way you prepare to play a more heightened, comic role than to play drama, as you do on “Grey’s Anatomy?”

Yes. I think I answered that in the question before actually. I find drama much easier than comedy. I’m able to access emotion pretty easily, so playing dramatic scenes comes very naturally to me. Doing comedy requires a whole other set of skills and it’s hard to get the timing right. The whole film was like an comedy acting master class for me.

What’s the best advice you have received as an actor?  As a mom?

Remember who you are. Remember what your true identity is. This acting thing is hard for many reasons. I think the hardest part for me is the public scrutiny of it. Your work is you and your work is scrutinized, criticized and praised multiple times a day online, in the press, and around the water cooler.  It’s easy to get caught up in what people are saying about you and if I pay too much attention to it, it begins to eat me alive. I have to do the hard work of separating truth from lies on an hourly basis in order to protect my heart and remember who I really am.

Best advice as a mom: trust your gut. No matter what anyone else says about how you should be raising your child, you and you alone are the expert on your child and you need to trust yourself.

Who should see this movie?

Everyone. Moms should see it so that they can be encouraged and affirmed that what they do is deeply valuable and important. Dads should see it so that they can see their wives in a new light and grow a deeper understanding and appreciation for the emotional rollercoasters moms find themselves on on a daily basis. Kids should see it so that they can laugh with their parents and walk out of the theater loving their moms even more. And anyone who has ever felt like they are not enough… This movie is for them. The ultimate message of this movie is : you are enough. You are beautiful. You are loved. Be free. I’m pretty sure everyone could use that message in their lives.

What do you want families who watch this film to talk about afterward?

I want them to laugh with each other. I want them to have a good cathartic laugh together and I want them to talk about how grateful they are for the families they have.

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Actors Interview

Moms’ Night Out

Posted on May 4, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Profanity: Mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Some drinking, references to substance abuse
Violence/ Scariness: Characters in peril, mostly comic, taser, tattoo parlor
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: May 9, 2014
Date Released to DVD: September 1, 2014 ASIN: B00KO6EC4A
© 2014 AFFIRM Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment & Provident Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
© 2014 AFFIRM Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment & Provident Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

It may feel like a kinder, gentler, sweeter version of “Adventures in Babysitting” or “The Hangover,” but this charming story manages to avoid getting syrupy, even when everyone settles down in the midst of chaos for a little talk about God’s love. It helps that the conversation is with a scary-looking tattooed biker type played by country star Trace Adkins. It is a very funny movie with an exceptionally likeable cast and a warm-hearted, surprisingly touching tribute to moms and their families, as endearing as a Mother’s Day Card made from a paper plate covered with smeared finger paint and glittery macaroni.

Three moms are just hoping for a night away from cranky toddlers, crankier teenagers, and the perpetual chaos of parenthood, only to stumble into an even greater chaos that (spoiler alert) teaches everyone some important lessons about what really matters. Allyson (adorable Sarah Drew of “Grey’s Anatomy”), is a “clean freak” fighting a losing battle against the most powerful mess generators ever known, young children.  She thinks it would feel comforting to be locked away in a bare white room in a straight jacket. The result: Allyson feels like “the Bruce Banner of stay-at-home moms,” literally tackling a child about to put his finger in his mouth because she is worried about salmonella.  Danger seems to lurk around every corner.  Panic never subsides.

Allyson has a devoted, sympathetic husband (Sean Astin as Sean), but that only makes her feel that she is failing him, too.  Plus the readers of her mommy blog have dropped from four to three. Allyson looks up to Sondra (a nicely wry but heartfelt Patricia Heaton), her preacher’s wife, and thinks of her as “my Oprah, my Dr. Phil, my Gandalf.”  And her closest friend is Izzy (Andrea Logan White).  She has not quite figured out a way to tell her husband, who is very insecure about taking care of their twins, that another baby is on the way.

All three moms are in desperate need of some grown-up time, in grown-up clothes, eating food they did not cook and won’t have to clean up after, with purses emptied out of sippy cups and disinfectant wipes.  So, they make plans for an all-too-rare girls’ night out, get all dressed up, and head out for a very fancy restaurant.

Unfortunately, they never get past the snooty hostess (the always-great Anjelah Johnson-Reyes of “Bon Qui Qui”).  Instead, they find themselves caught up in a vortex that includes a missing car and a missing baby (the child of Sean’s sister), with trips to the emergency room and the police station, a tattoo parlor and cosmic bowling. Adkins has a nice scene as a tattooed biker with some surprisingly good advice. Every mom will relate to Allyson’s “pyramid of co-dependency” and the particular bleakness of feeling that you are living your dream and still cannot feel happy about it.  And to the mantra of the airplane directions for use of oxygen: If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.  And to “finding the meaning, joy, and purpose in all the craziness.”

Parents should know that the movie includes some peril (no one badly hurt), minor injuries, a character who gets tased, and references to alcoholism.

Family discussion: Why was it hard for Allyson to feel like she was doing a good job?  How do you find purpose in the craziness?

If you like this, try: “Adventures in Babysitting” and “Ramona and Beezus”

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Comedy DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Family Issues Spiritual films
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