The lack of press screenings started up bad word on writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s raucous 2016 girls’ comedy but the good news is Bad Moms isn’t bad.
The first three quarters delivers a surprisingly high score of often below-the-belt laughs as Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell’s team of women of the Bad Moms’ club forms to kick back at bad husbands and, well not bad kids, just slack ones. These 30-something sisters decide they’ve had enough and are going to do it for themselves.
It’s just a series of raunchy, mostly well-aimed gags, and that works nicely, until the laborious plot sets in as the trio take on Parent Teacher Association Queen Bee Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her clique of devoted perfect moms (Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie Mumolo). Where was Melissa McCarthy when they were casting this? Thank goodness she was busy elsewhere!
This plot is strictly for the birds, but, what’s so much worse is that, when that is done and dusted, the movie goes all sentimental on us, with a Big Message about how ‘all moms are Bad Moms and that’s good’. And then, worse still, Gwendolyn turns into someone essentially nice, just misunderstood, just another Bad Mom, so she can join the team’s club for the sequel.
Mila Kunis is classy in the main role, funny and truthful, leaving Hahn to ham it up, big and larger than life, which to be fair she does well and successfully, livening up the screen’s several dead places. Bell has surprisingly little to do, but when she does it, she’s good. Applegate is spot on. Oona Laurence and Emjay Anthony do OK as Kunis’s understandably bewildered kids. Well, they’ve got a Bad Mom, haven’t they?
Though two men helm this movie, the on-screen men have a terrible time, with David Walton having to play Kunis’s idiot of a husband, which he does gamely. Why have they stayed together this long? The script makes no attempt to tell us. Kunis catches him having online sex with the naked Sharon (Leah McKendrick). Is a little masturbation enough to end a marriage? Yes it is. Their marriage is over! The Bad Moms begin.
Oh, but wait. Kunis could blackmail Walton into marriage guidance counselling first. No, it’s a dead duck, he’s a complete dufus. Has she really only just noticed?
Clark Duke has a terrible little role as Kunis’s idiot of a boss, and Jay Hernandez has a terrible little role as Kunis’s hunky new love interest, Jessie Harkness, which he performs gracefully and sweetly. Wendell Pierce has a bit of dry wry fun as the laconic Principal Burr.
The idea the movie proposes that women think of men only as sex/love objects, wage earners, nest providers, and/or idiot losers is somehow depressing. Women from Venus, men from Mars? But, oh, we’re not to take it seriously, it’s only in fun. Alas, the movie has enough empty moments to ponder what it’s up to. Speed is of the essence in gross comedies, give ’em no time to think, no reason to think, no reason at all.
The end credits scene with the interviews with the actresses and their real-life moms is both fascinating and sick making, a good idea misjudged but somehow still working, just like the whole movie.
Rated R (UK 15) for sexual material, full frontal nudity, strong language throughout, and drug and alcohol content.
Cheap to make at $20 million, it’s a US box office winner at $76 million, so Bad Moms 2 is just around the corner.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Movie Review
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