Director-Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring-Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn
Scott’s Review #706
Reviewed December 20, 2017
Bad Moms tries to do for women what The Hangover did for men and create a raunchy, R-rated party romp that haggard mothers everywhere can relate to and appreciate. The films billboard presents the three main characters boozing it up under a caption of “Party Like a Mother”. Perhaps since I am not a mother I did not fully gravitate towards this film, but despite a smidgen of mild laughs, Bad Moms fell flat for me, mostly because of tired characters, gimmicky situations, and an over-the-top tone. Not surprising is that the film is written by the same individuals who wrote The Hangover- as it comes across as a direct ripoff with a different gender in the drivers seat.
The central character in the film is Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis), a thirty-two year old mother of two, living a busy life in the Chicago suburbs. Considered “old” by her hipster boss, and with a porn obsessed husband, she runs around frazzled and behind schedule most of the time. After a particularly hairy day, Amy abruptly quits the school PTA run by militant Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), and befriends fellow moms, sex-crazed Carla (Kathryn Hahn), and timid Kiki (Kristen Bell). After she incites Gwendolyn’s wrath, Amy decides enough is enough and embarks on a plot to win the PTA presidency, while dumping her husband and dating hunky widower, Jessie (Jay Hernandez).
Admittedly, Kunis is very likable as Amy- a cool chick with energy that most would love to befriend -we empathize with her predicaments and juggling schedules. But this can only go so far in a comedic film, and the setup pieces and the supporting characters are way too plot driven and lack authenticity that the end result is little more than one root-able character. Applegate as an actress, is quite capable, but Gwendolyn, the clear foil, is largely written as a cartoon character. Her bitchy comments to her underlings, who inexplicably are afraid to cross her, seem too staged. Jada Pinkett Smith, clearly in need of a paycheck, is disposable as “second in command” crony, Stacy. Furthermore, Amy’s husband Mike (David Walton) is portrayed largely as a buffoon and childlike. The point of these character examples is to stress that the film contains too many caricatures rather than characters.
An irritating quality to Bad Moms that I simply cannot shake is that the film is written and directed by a duo of men! Jon Lucas and Scott Moore are the individuals in question and the mere fact that the film, clearly painted as a female empowerment story, is not written by females is almost unforgivable. Case in point involves a bathroom scene where the ladies discuss uncircumcised penises- a dumb scene if you ask me- that is retched considering men wrote and directed it. In this day and age of Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment suits bubbling to the surface, the scene seems icky. It should not be this hard to find women to write for other women.
Of the additional trio of females, Kathryn Hahn’s Carla has a few funny scenes, but is written as so sex-obsessed that it is impossible to take the character seriously and the same goes for Bell’s Kiki. When mousy Kiki finally lays down the law and tells her boorish husband to deal with their kids, it is meant to be a rah-rah moment, but instead becomes eye rolling. Not the best actress in the world, Bell continues to get roles like this in sub-par films.
An attempt by film-makers to make a girl film on par with male driven raunchy comedies thrust on moviegoers over the years, Bad Moms comes across as too unoriginal and too desperate for laughs. Undoubtedly hoping to win over the same audiences who flocked to the last funny female driven comedy hit, 2011 Bridesmaids, the film falls flat and lacks genuine funnies. Its score is bolstered slightly by the successful casting of Kunis in the lead role and the sweet romance her character shares with Hernandez’s Jessie.