“A Bad Moms Christmas”
Review by Alex Moore
A year ago I was injected into an intriguing scenario as a film critic. It involved lots of women, the majority of them mothers, and the mayor of the city introducing the movie. Prizes and give-aways abounded, as well.
It was called “Bad Moms,” starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn. Surprisingly, I enjoyed myself. The awkwardness of being a lone male in a women’s world wore off quickly and I soon felt right at home. Sure, there were points to the film that I couldn’t not really relate to, but it did not seem to matter.
Fast-forward to NOW…
The scene for the sequel was similar, but not the same and a few things seemed to be missing. There were no hot fudge sundaes after the show, for instance. More men had been dragged along with their wives/girlfriends to this screening and the mayor appeared to be missing in action. Perhaps, BECAUSE I had been here before, figuratively AND literally, I did not feel as anxious or awkward. The prizes and give-aways ensued, as well.
Moments into the movie, I saw a tactic that usually indicates a bad sign in terms of story quality: cue the flashback!…
A little girl dropped THREE “f-bombs” in a span of a minute or so and I was NOT amused by it. However, the majority of the audience seemed to find it funny, SO maybe I just could not relate. That same joke was recalled at the very end of the film, which did not make hay with me, either, but worked like a charm for the rest of the audience, AGAIN.
Kunis, Bell and Hahn would not be carrying the full load this time around. Joining them as THEIR Moms were: Cheryl Hines (“Nine Lives”), Christine Baranski (“Miss Sloane”) and Susan Sarandon (“Zoolander 2”). Hines was the clingy mother, Sandy, of Bell’s reprised character, Kiki. Baranski was the stuffy mother, Ruth, of Kunis’s reprised character, Amy Mitchell. Sarandon was the inappropriate mother, Isis Dunkler, of Hahn’s reprised character, Carla Dunkler.
There were a handful of scenes which I found either funny or touching. The greatest of these occurred towards the end: Kenny G, in MY view, brought the house down with a wonderful comedic one-liner, versus Kunis, AND Peter Gallagher (“Hello, My Name is Doris”), as Hank, shared a nice little dialogue with Kunis, regarding the inner-workings of her mother, in the film. Clearly, the movie made an effort to balance comedy and drama, which is indeed a challenge, but certainly can be done. To me, the straight moments worked more effectively, overall, than the funny moments. Compared to the previous entry in the movie series, the style of comedy was much more crass and uncomfortable. I wondered if it is normal to poke fun at children and display abuse, of several variations, in hopes of garnering cheap laughs. Most of this occurred between Carla and her grown son which, although makes sense, was pretty tacky. Frankly, Carla’s biggest comedic scenes were the most hurtful in the story, as I see it. I realize that male objectification has slowly become commonplace, especially in so-called “chick flicks,” but there was almost nothing in the material, here, which could redeem any of that for “A Bad Moms Christmas.” Again, most of the audience was enjoying those scenes with a fair amount of laughter.
With all that said, it is obvious that I was NOT a part of the intended target audience for this particular movie. Still, it is MY position that this follow-up is inferior to its predecessor. The jokes were far more raunchy in this one, which is not necessarily the issue, in principle. It has everything to do with the subject material. Yes, these are “bad Moms,” but the first feature had some nice, redeeming qualities to make their point that ALL Moms are “bad” in their own right, but simultaneously NOT bad, at all. Amy was the “front female” for both films, but her character failed to tie the story all the way up this time around. I was more annoyed by what I was watching than anything else and there were only two moments in which I really gave a full, belly laugh.
I wish I knew if there was goin got be a third installment for this or not, but if there IS, hopefully, it returns more to its roots and chooses to leave THIS chapter far behind.
Directors: Scott Moore and Jon Lucas
Writers: Moore and Lucas
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, Jay Hernandez as Jessie Harkness, Justin Hartley as Ty Swindle, Peter Gallagher, Oona Laurence as Jane Mitchell, Emjay Anthony as Dylan Mitchell, David Walton as Mike Mitchell, Wanda Sykes as Dr Elizabeth Karl, Christina Applegate as Gwendolyn James and Kenny G
Distributor: STX. Films
Release: November 1st, 2017