Bad Moms

There are several guffaw-worthy moments in Bad Moms, but in the meantime it gets dragged down by the screenwriter panic of this being, oh, a chick flick.

Genre(s): Comedy

Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Actors: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Annie Mumolo, Jay Hernandez, Jada Pinkett Smith, Christina Applegate

Year: 2016

MPAA Rating: R

Country: USA

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I remember there were a few scenes in Bridesmaids that had me laughing so hard that I made a garbly snorting/wheezing sound while tears rolled down my face. It was the first mainstream movie in recent memory (since Hollywood’s memory is notably short) that acknowledged that women can be raunchy. They can be gross. They can be FUNNY. That film spawned not tidal waves, but sputtering blurts of occasional films (Hollywood is still very nervous around funny woman), including Trainwreck and Sisters, which both had their moments. Now we have Bad Moms, with the promising promise of being from the creators of the male raunch-fest The Hangover.

Let’s just say that yes, there are several guffaw-worthy moments in Bad Moms (most notably a scene involving a pink zip-up sweatshirt that had me cackling), but in the meantime it gets dragged down by the screenwriter panic of this being, oh, a chick flick. What does that mean? It means that, at the core, the film has a heart. There will be tears, there will be feminine, nurturing regret, and there will be responsibility. (The male equivalent of the “have a heart” core usually just means that the male lead has to grow up, which is acknowledged by a knowing smile and kiss from his lone female supporting star, the token girl).

Anyway. Mila Kunis is Amy, a working woman who has been a mom her whole adult life since being pregnant and in love at the age of 20. Now, 12 years later, her husband is a doofus, her job is too demanding, and she is carting her two kids from bed to school to soccer practice and more. She boots her husband after she busts him with his pants down at the computer (oops), then Amy pretty much has a suddenly-single-mom meltdown.

Amy finds surprising solace with a couple other less-than-perfect moms at her local PTA meeting: the outrageous single mom Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and the mousy, friendless, stay-at-home mom Kiki (Kristen Bell). An (early) evening of drunken bonding later, along with a raucous trip to the grocery store, and the new pals decide to thumb their noses at the PTA and become Bad Moms.

Bad Moms, at its best, has a talented cast, most notably the scene-stealing Kathryn Hahn who shows us what this movie SHOULD be at every turn. She easily gets the biggest laughs, and you find yourself watching her on the sidelines, even when she is not the focus. Adorable Kristen Bell is a good sport, though isn’t used to her full potential, and Mila Kunis almost plays the straight man in the middle of the chaos (she is, after all, the main mom… she can’t get TOO bad). The subplot of the evil PTA (led by Christina Applegate and her cronies, who may as well all be called Heather) is kind of tiresome, and after awhile you start noticing the lulls between the laughs.

But I will say that the screening I attended was packed with the target audience: mostly white suburban woman in their 20s and 30s. I’m sure many of these women had a babysitter at home. And if seeing a movie like Bad Moms gets them feeling raunchy and want to shake up their too-full lives, well then all power to them.

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