Movie Review: Bad Moms (2016)
“Party Like a Mother”
Bad Moms (2016)
Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell
Synopsis: Three overworked mums decide to abandon their parental responsibilities and indulge in a little fun time.
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You can see the thinking behind John Lucas and Scott Moore’s comedy, Bad Moms: movies about hard-working women trying to be good parents to their kids while holding down a demanding job are ten-a-penny, so why not make a movie in which the hard-working mum says ‘screw it’ and not only stops trying to achieve the impossible, but deliberately goes out of her way to act as irresponsibly as she likes? The possibilities are endless, but few of them really lend themselves to the kind of breezy comedy which Bad Moms is trying to be. Let’s face it: in real life, the repercussions of being a bad mother are rarely good, and Bad Moms has to leave reality at the opening credits in order to deliver an upbeat take on the situation.
The ‘Mom’ in question is Amy (Mila Kunis – Ted, Jupiter Ascending), a business executive single-handedly keeping her nerdy employer’s coffee company afloat while bringing up two kids, largely without any help from a husband (David Walton) whose slobbish ways seem a little at odds with his high-income job. Amy can just about tolerate his failure to contribute to the raising of their children, but draws the line when she finds him engaging in a spot of mutual masturbation with a merkin-wearing woman on the Internet. The day after kicking hubby out of the house, Amy has a day from hell which prompts her to take the fateful decision to be a Bad Mom who does whatever she wants. She’s joined in her mission by two equally stressed mothers she meets in a bar. Carla (Kathryn Hahn – This is Where I Leave You, Tomorrowland), the kind of slutty mum (with a cynical heart of gold, of course) other mothers tend to stay away from, and Kiki (Kristen Bell – Zootopia) who’s little more than a domestic slave to her unappreciative husband and kids.
It’s something of a surprise to find that Bad Moms isn’t the brainchild of some feminist with an agenda, but the work of the writing duo responsible for The Hangover movies, which are nothing but thinly disguised celebrations of male bad behaviour. But then, considering the way in which the men in Bad Moms are portrayed (they’re either insensitive clods, women-fearing wimps, or Mills-and-Boon figures of masculine perfection) it shouldn’t really come as a surprise. The women are painted in equally broad and unrealistic strokes, although in a far more favourable light, even if they do abandon their responsibilities. Having said that, the worst that Amy does is misbehave in a supermarket with her new besties, and force her kids to make their own breakfast and do their homework. In fact, throwing off the yoke of domestic oppression is largely forgotten when Amy becomes involved in challenging Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues), the authoritarian (and spiteful) head of the PTA, for her post.
Mila Kunis is a hugely appealing light leading lady who almost makes Bad Moms worth watching despite the miserably low quality of its humour, most of which is derived from the idea that women talking like foul-mouthed men is a cast-iron guarantee of laughs. Truth is, it’s something that’s too commonplace in real life to provide a source of humour in a work of fiction.
(Reviewed 30th August 2016)