Movies aimed at faith-based and family audiences sometimes get a bad rap from critics who say they're poorly produced, rarely attract all-star talent and are often so heavy-handed that they alienate non-Christians and end up simply preaching to the choir.
But directors and brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin want to change all that. They're hoping their new film, "Moms' Night Out," can prove that movies don't have to be crude to be funny and will offer a unique opportunity for those who love comedy but who don't particularly enjoy coarse humor.
"I think that Christians like movies like anyone else [and] they want to see their values represented," Andrew Erwin told TheBlaze. "They want to be entertained and they want to have a fun experience."
But he said that the faithful sometimes have to "sacrifice their values to get good entertainment" when it comes to the comedy genre, as there simply isn't much quality material hitting theaters.
The Erwin brothers, though, believe that they've found the perfect recipe to get Christians and family-friendly audiences laughing, while not feeling as though they need to take a shower after leaving the theater.
"There hasn't been funny material that has come out of the space that isn't offensive. Christians like to laugh too," Andrew Erwin explained. "We don't feel like we have to sacrifice how funny it is at the altar of something crass or offensive."
"Moms' Night Out" centers around a group of busy moms who are faced with unanticipated pandemonium when they venture out for a fun night on the town, mixing a well-known cast with a storyline chock full of comedies of error.
The film, out May 9, will follow in the footsteps of other recent Hollywood projects aimed at family and faith-based audiences. The all-star cast includes Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), Sean Astin ("Lord of the Rings") and Sarah Drew ("Grey's Anatomy"), among others.
Image source: MomsNightOutMovie.com
But "Moms' Night Out" isn't a Christian film per se, though it does deal with themes familiar to most families -- and mentions of God and Jesus are peppered throughout during key moments.
Andrew Erwin told TheBlaze that he doesn't necessarily buy into the notion that a film must be "Christian" in nature in order to be consumed and enjoyed by believers.
"I'm a filmmaker that is a Christian. My first job to the audience is to entertain," he added. "Every film preaches. Every film has a worldview."
In addition to making audiences laugh, he said honoring mothers was one of his team's major motivations.
"We wanted to do a movie that really celebrated how important the job of a mom is," he said. "All the craziness of life that gets neglected to really affirm how important it is for a mom doing what she does ... "I think if we can celebrate that in a way that builds families up ... that's the point of the journey."
Andrew, who himself has two kids, and Jon, a father of three, are hoping that families will jump right on board with "Moms' Night Out."
Andrew Erwin and his wife Mandii at the "Moms' Night Out" premiere in Los Angeles Tuesday. (Photo: TheBlaze/Billy Hallowell)
"If you're a parent, you'll relate," he added.
The filmmaker explained that he and his brother stumbled upon the "Moms' Night Out" script after working on "October Baby," their first feature film. They liked the script so much they felt making the movie was a no-brainer.
"It kind of took us off guard. We thought we knew what our next project would be and we thought it would be a drama," Andrew Erwin said.
But, as is often the case in life, their plans inadvertently changed. Before long, they found themselves actively seeking out actors and actresses to star in their first comedy.
"Patricia Heaton was our first choice," Erwin admitted. "Patty's a force of nature. She's great. She's comedy royalty."
Watch a scene from the movie below:
And their first choice ended up jumping in head-first, taking on the role of Sondra, a preacher's wife who's raising an often challenging teenage daughter.
Heaton told TheBlaze in a separate interview that it took her and her husband, David Hunt, some time to commit to the project, but that she's glad they did (Hunt plays a quirky cab driver in the film). In addition to acting in the movie, the two also served as executive producers, believing wholeheartedly in the script and storyline.
"You know Monday through Friday can be tough and money is tight," Heaton recently told TheBlaze. "So somebody is going to lay out some hard-earned cash for the sitter, the gas, the popcorn and the movie, you want them feeling great at the end of it and have a lot of good laughs and I think we really accomplished that with 'Moms' Night Out.'"
The actress added that she appreciated having a say in the script and being able to help craft her character. Since pastors' wives don't often appear on the big screen, she took extra care to adequately and accurately portray her character.
Find out more about the movie here.