STX ENTERTAINMENT (2016)
Directors: Jon Lucas / Scott Moore
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Annie Mumolo, Jay Hernandez, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Christina Applegate
With a barrage of clips set to Amy Mitchell’s (Kunis) voiceover, we quickly find how her life as a mom functions – the school runs, chauffeuring her kids to soccer and Mandarin lessons, wearing whatever food and drink she attempts to consume whilst driving, the full-time part-time job surrounded by millennial staff at a hipster coffee company, doing the kids homework, dealing with her over-dumb husband Mike (David Walton), attending horribly serious PTA meetings – all whilst being late to everything. This is motherhood to Amy.
Another film in the unconnected ‘Bad’ series (Bad Santa, Bad Grandpa etc.), Bad Moms tackles the problems faced by mothers the world over – the need for perfection and for others to notice your efforts – something highlighted all the way through the movie.
As I do with comedies, I ask the question, was the movie funny? The answer is yes, for the most part, the movie delivered laughs, but at times fell flat as stereotypes or techniques were recycled.
The idea of three women – one pure, one hellraiser and the discontented one – thrown together seems clichéd but the connection between them is there. The funniest moments came when Kunis, Hahn and Bell were given free-rein to just riff away – the mom bra scene, Amy’s wardrobe, and the PTA groups – all examples of actors playing off each other successfully. Each ‘mom’ also has their own individual comic lines/moments, and the movie works better for this.
For the cast, Mila Kunis performs her role well (though not one of her more challenging) and handles her comedy well as you’d expect, and as the main draw of the movie was a step above the rest of the cast. Kristin Bell was believable as the prudish mom, never quite socially adept yet always wanting to be, though sometimes coming across a bit too contrived (I still remember seeing her in Pulse though and die a bit inside). Kathryn Hahn is clearly having a blast as the loudmouth mom, being allowed to channel her inner madness in a larger than life role, though it became slightly tiring towards the end of the movie. Christina Applegate almost steals the show with her acidic PTA leader, always there to judge and scheming away in the background to ensure her place as the top dog remains – she really came across as a bitch - good job!
By the third act, much of the shtick had worn thin, unfortunately – the sex jokes, the clichés, Hahn’s hamminess and the plot. Bad Moms was never going to redefine the genre, however as with many similar efforts, the plot is paper thin. The acts change with effortless obviousness, and the situations faced have been recycled many, many times before, and sometimes comedy can’t cover over the plot’s shortcomings – and this does at times take away from the picture for me. The film’s target audience is certainly made clear throughout with the various call to arms for mothers everywhere – though the idea of Amy heading up the PTA is a stretch. The use of the Jessie character seemed shoehorned in, as it didn’t really progress the story other than to ensure Mike was not returning. Like all similar movies, the ending ties everything up with a saccharine bow, but with the message and the audience in mind, it probably served better to have a happy ending.
With all of its many faults, Bad Moms still possesses killer comedy moments throughout and certainly made me laugh during it - if you want to watch a good-time movie and to have a giggle without having to think, Bad Moms will do the trick.
October 25th 2016