BAD MOMS (6.5 out of 10) Written and Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore; Starring Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith; Rated R for "sexual material, full frontal nudity, language throughout, and drug and alcohol content;" Running time 110 minutes; In wide release July 29, 2016
Mothers gave us each life and should be celebrated and reverenced. But sometimes they need to shed their perfect exteriors and get their party on! Bad Moms presents its stars as the imperfect people all moms truly are. While it celebrates their accomplishments and their essential nature, this is a tribute to bad moms who just need to blow off some steam sometimes.
One such mom is Amy (Kunis) who runs her overscheduled children's lives at a frenetic, breakneck pace. When her world starts to crumble around her, she decides to take a break from being the perfect mom. She is joined by new friends and quintessential bad mom Carla (Hahn) and overburdened homebody who doesn't get out much anymore Kiki (Bell). Together they take on queen bee grown-up-Mean-Girl Gwendolyn (Applegate) and her fascist iron grip on the PTA. And hijinks ensue.
The films plays out exactly as you'd expect, with awkwardness and inappropriateness galore as adults behave like adolescents. "Bad Moms" has a specific way of presenting this, however. Specifically, they use musical montage after slow motion montage of middle aged women partying to modern pop hits. Did you want to see moms partying to "Cake By the Ocean"? Too bad. You get "Cake by the Ocean."
This unfortunately gives the film a disjointed feel as it is more a series of ridiculous music videos than a cohesive film. Given that this soundtrack is very much the greatest hits of Summer 2016, it is also likely to not age well.
The movie gets its laughs from its stars doing funny things and saying awful things. This is undoubtedly funny, but there's a difference between true comedy and just "doing funny things." This is much more of the latter.
The film also tries to deliver a saccharine sweet message about the demands we place on women and children. It almost feels like a "very special episode" of an 80's sitcom where we're supposed to have learned a lesson by the end of it.
It also comes off as inauthentic to anyone who has actually participated in things like a PTA or trying to lobby a school administrator on behalf of a child. This feels like the filmmakers loved the teen sex comedies from the 80's or 90's, but since they couldn't make one then, they're giving their characters the opportunity to play in one now. But this is as about as real a experience about parenting as one of those movies was about going to summer camp.
In short, this movie plays like a movie about the mother experience written by a couple of bros-- because it was! The writers, best knows for writing "The Hangover" don't stray far from their roots. While the film pokes fun at the concept of the uninvolved, lazy father, it seems more like it was written by someone who is one as he tries to glorify his wife who attempts to do it all.
Regardless of its problems, the best reason to see this film is its cast. Kathryn Hahn is exactly as good as you expect her to be, and she's perfect. Christina Applegate also delivers one of the best performances of her career as the villain you love to hate. She's obviously relishing this, and she gets one of the most interesting character arcs. Her team of sycophants also includes a resplendent Jada Pinkett Smith, who is also at the top of her game. Kunis and Bell, reunited from their amazing performances in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" also are great, but you have a hard time believing Mila Kunis is ever anything but confident and attractive, even as a "hot mess."
The jokes are good, even when they're bad. As long as you can tolerate extremely inappropriate behavior and don't mind your movie getting interrupted by yet another slo mo "Middle Aged Girls Gone Wild" music montage, you should enjoy this. But as a serious attempt at comedy, this doesn't exactly hold its liquor. It's lucky its stars are so charismatic-- it makes up for in personality what it lacks in sense.
6.5 out of 10