EXCLUSIVE: Meet the Moms of ‘Fun Mom Dinner’ — and Check Out the Movie’s Poster!
You’ve met the mom that isn’t like a regular mom, she’s a cool mom. You’ve met the self-proclaimed bad moms. Now it’s time to meet the fun moms of Fun Mom Dinner. To celebrate the unveiling of the movie’s poster, debuting on ET, screenwriter Julie Rudd (yes, her husband is Paul Rudd) phoned ET to introduce us to her mom crew, played by Katie Aselton, Molly Shannon, Toni Collette and Bridget Everett.
“I really wanted it to be kind of a love letter to moms,” Rudd told ET. “Because I, as a mom, just found myself with this amazing group of mom friends that I met and I was surprised by how important they became in my life and how understood they made me feel.”
ET: Whenever ET premieres a poster, I usually include the studio’s synopsis of the movie. But since I’m talking with you, I figured it’d be nice to hear what it’s about in your own words.
Julie Rudd: I wanted to take the experiences of being a mom and have it more front and center in a comedy than it had been prior to Bad Moms, for sure. I think moms had been a stereotypical side joke in the comedies about guys, so I thought it would be fun to make a movie about moms, where the moms are having some fun. It was also important to me that they felt like real people and they felt like real moms and they were the right age to be the moms that they were. And I think that we pulled it off!
Were you worried at all about any inevitable Bad Mom comparisons?
Not at all! I’m not in the least bit worried. I was thrilled to see how well Bad Moms did and to feel like my hunch maybe was right, that there is an appetite for this and that women wanted to see something like this. So, for me, it’s all good. We are very different. We’re a very small, little indie movie. I think this movie, it’s sort of tender at moments and soulful at moments. I think there is enough mom movie material to go around and I think it’s fun, in the wake of something like Bad Moms, [to have] a different take on it. So, I’m not worried at all. I’m kind of excited, because I think maybe people will go in with that expectation and maybe they’ll say, like, “Wow, this was funny, too, but this was also something else. I really saw myself in a real way up there on the screen.”
I want to walk through the four moms and have you tell me a little about each character and why each of the actresses was perfect for their role. Why don’t we start with Molly Shannon?
Molly Shannon could do anything and could have played any part in this movie. Just having her around, she’s so funny — she’s such an amazing comedian — and playing Jamie, this divorced mom, I think she brought a real tenderness to the part that is so nice to see her do. And to be sort of a little shy. In a way, it was against what you’d think Molly would be in this movie, and I always like when somebody surprises me. Her character is recently divorced, so she’s at that moment where she is thinking about maybe getting out there and starting to date again, but of course she’s afraid and it’s all new to her.
How about Katie Aselton? I’m so happy she’s in the cast, because she has been so great on Casual and Togetherness.
I completely agree! I loved her on Togetherness and that role, Emily, she is the new mom in town. She’s new to this school, so she’s interested in meeting some friends, but she has trepidation about, What are all these moms going to be like? So, in many ways, we enter the story through her perspective and Katie Aselton, I don’t know– she just has such a real quality. She has a little toughness, but also a tenderness. She is so many things, and so to have her be that anchor in the middle is great. I think a lot of women will see a piece of themselves in her.
Then there’s Bridget Everett, who people may recognize from Trainwreck. She is having a bit of a breakout summer, between this and Patti Cake$. Tell me about her.
I live in New York and while I was in the very early stages of writing this script, I went and saw her cabaret show at Joe’s Pub and my mind was blown! I became a little obsessed with going to see the show. I went and saw it, you know, a few times. And she’s so unbelievably talented. She is raunchy onstage, and she is bawdy and she is hysterical, but then there’s a moment in the cabaret show where she sits on a chair and she sings a song about her father that is so beautiful and her voice is so beautiful and I had one of these moments that you don’t have so often in life, where it just hit me like a lightning bolt. Probably the fifth time of seeing her, I was watching her up there, the spotlight was on her, and I was like, “Oh my god. She’s Melanie! I’m writing this part for this woman and I didn’t even realize it.” And I just really wanted her to do it. She always was Melanie.
How does she end up in the unicorn onesie we see here?
You know, when you’re a mom, you don’t have a lot of time. Sometimes the simple things become really exciting, like going into a Rite Aid or a Walgreens, going in for one thing and then it’s like, “Oh my god, there’s a million things in here!” I love that As Seen on TV section, and I thought, How hysterical would it be if these moms had a moment where they go into a Walgreens and when they walk out, we realize that they all had that mom moment where they bought things they absolutely did not need? And she did that with the unicorn onesie!
Lastly, the always wonderful Toni Collette.
She’s incredible! I’ve always admired her from afar and think she’s an incredible actress. The fact that she’s in the movie still blows my mind a little bit. When the idea of Toni playing this part was brought up, obviously I thought it was an incredible idea, but I didn’t really understand until she came to set and started inhabiting this part how much she was going to bring to it. She’s got like an inherent toughness, but I don’t want to be misquoted about that! I mean that in the best way! In that way that, when she is around, you just so want her to like you. You so want her to be your friend. She is as cool as can be and she is not trying at all. And so she brought so much more to Kate, because she is the toughest of the four and resistant to being with all these moms and having mom friends. And Toni made Kate so much better than anything I ever could have imagined.
Then there are the men listed on the poster — Adam Scott, Rob Huebel, Adam Levine, Paul Rust — but we don’t see Paul Rudd’s name. But he appears in the movie, right?
He is! He has a cameo in the movie, yes. But he couldn’t be in the movie so much, because he had to be there for our kids while I worked on the movie.
This is your first feature, but Paul has been working forever and has written a few screenplays himself. Had you been watching and picking up things from him along the way? Or did he pass on any words of wisdom as you were starting this?
Not really words of wisdom, but he just gave me so much encouragement. When I had this idea, he thought it was a great idea. And it was very sweet. It was around the time of my birthday when I told him the idea and for my birthday, he gave me a new laptop with Final Draft software already installed. He just gave me the encouragement to start sitting down at that computer and writing. I had never written a script before and I started doing it, taking my kids to school and then coming home to a quiet apartment and writing while they were in school, until it was time to pick them up again.
When you look back on the entire experience of writing the movie and being on set and then premiering at Sundance, do you have one standout memory?
I have so many! I mean, the whole thing is such a dream come true for me. I have loved movies my entire life. My sister and I, when we were kids, would have our own little movie festivals like, This week we’re going to watch a bunch of Jack Lemmon movies. Next week, we’re going to do Bette Davis. Watching the Oscars as a kid was such a big deal in my house. So, for me to walk on the set of a movie and think, “This is a movie that I wrote,” it’s like a fairy tale. It’s my little girl dreams coming true. And doing it with Naomi Scott, who is one of my closest friends, and to have fun with our husbands doing it, and just for it to have gotten into Sundance– I mean, there’s been 70 pinch-me moments. I’m red and bruised all over from all the pinch-me moments I’ve had.
Fun Mom Dinner is in select theaters and available On Demand on August 4.
Screenwriter Julie Rudd talks to ET about casting Molly Shannon and Toni Collette in her ‘love letter to moms.’
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