There seems to be a misperception in America that when a woman becomes a mother her other identities and characteristics are lessened. While some women see their most important role as being a mom, this is not to say these women are no longer daughters, sisters, friends, hard-workers, students, etc. In Sundance Film Festival's Fun Mom Dinner, starring Toni Collette, Bridget Everett, Molly Shannon, and Katie Aselton, it's clear that moms are many things, and there's one thing in particular they share with non-moms everywhere: they like to party.
Yes, single people enjoy a fun night out, but moms love to cut loose, push aside their responsibilities (if only for a moment), and let the good times roll, too. During the second weekend of the Park City festival, I caught up with Fun Mom Dinner's Collette and Everett over the phone to talk motherhood, partying, and female-driven comedies.
"As a mother you are known as a mother. But people are complex, and there are so many, many aspects to every human," Collette says. "As an actor I have played a lot of mothers, but I have gone to great pain to explain to every journalist who says, 'so you’re playing a mom...' that yes, this woman has kids, but guess what? She’s so much more that. You don’t call Don Draper 'a father.' It’s pretty frustrating, I’ve got to say."
And because of Collette's frustrations, Fun Mom Dinner was a movie she happily signed up for. Not only are the women in this film fully formed human beings, they are so much more than just moms.
Everett, who isn't a mom — save to her dog, Poppy — feels that there's a certain prejudice towards mothers who like to party. "I have some friends that I rolled around with in their 20s and they’re moms now. But we still go out and I have to keep up with them. The wheels come off and they are ready to go. The moms I know like to have a good time. If there is a stigma; it's time for it to change. We are done with that mentality."
Collette agrees, and wishes she had more movies featuring fun-loving-moms to look up to as a teen.
"As a female, I wish that if I had been 17 years old that I could have seen a movie like this. It’s a real insight into what you retain from your youth, what changes, and really what doesn’t. It’s about female friendship and a thoughtful meditation on what it is to grow into womanhood," the Australian-born actor says.
The film centers around four moms who decide to have a fun dinner out, but their casual plans quickly escalate into a wild and unforgettable night of fun and deepening female friendships. "Female friendship is so important, and this [film shows] how deep it can run, especially as you get older. Having those really special connections with other women who you can talk to so openly, and who know you inside out... I think it’s really special," she says.
Having a raunchy female-led comedy starring four women seems like a rare thing in Hollywood. For example, in 2015, women comprised only 22% of protagonists, 18% of antagonists, 34% of major characters, in the top 100 domestic grossing films, according to the Center for Study of Women in Television in Film. For every Bridesmaids there are a dozen The Hangovers — or so it feels. Collette agrees, but also thinks women are underrepresented in every genre of movies.
"We need more women in all types of film. That’s definitely one of the massive appeals of a project like this. You know, it just felt like a true representation of these particular women and I think that’s important in any type of storytelling," Collette says. "There’s still a rather large imbalance in terms of the stories that are told, the characters that are focused on. We’re all sharing the planet and there’s plenty of room for everybody. Stories should be much broader in their scope and who they are intended for."
As our conversation comes to a close, I ask the women what would be included in their own version of a wild night out. "I had one last night," Collette says. "Let's just say I have a hangover."
Clearly, moms — like Collette — and non-moms — like Everett — both savor a night of pure, alcohol-infused fun, and that's nothing to be ashamed of.