By Christian DiMartino
Bad Moms is probably a deeply mediocre movie, but it’s rescued by its great cast, some sharp and funny dialogue, and its spirit. Here is a predictable and cliche, but often funny richly entertaining movie that takes about twenty minutes to get off the ground. I saw this film on Tuesday, in a crowded house filled with… mothers. Estrogen and laughter filled the air for 100 minutes.
Now, I admit that after that unfortunate Tina Fey/Amy Poehler fiasco, Sisters, I have honestly lost faith in comedy. Or, rather, I don’t trust anything anymore. Because if Fey and Poehler can’t make a funny movie, who can? That theatre was also filled with laughter, as I sat there angry. Which I assumed would be the case with Bad Moms. But thankfully, for the most part, I was able to join the theatre this time… for the most part.
Mila Kunis is lovely and funny as Amy, a mother of two who simply just has too much going on. She has a job. Her boss (Clark Duke) is a douche. Her husband is a loser who has a relationship with a girl online. The PTA moms, including Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate. Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo play her sidekicks) judge her, for whatever reason. So when she steel-toes her husband’s ass to the curb, she’s basically left to do EVERYTHING, and there arrives the problem.
After a day goes horribly wrong, Amy snaps at Gwendolyn during a PTA meeting. Following this, she befriends Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell), two fellow mothers. Kiki is a sweet mother of multiple children who is in a somewhat strict marriage. Carla is the care-free, single, foulmouthed, slutty one, constantly hitting on the other husbands. That night, they all declare that they’re going to be “bad moms,” basically saying YOLO to the whole concept of motherhood.
In the first twenty minutes, you’re not sure whether to laugh or run out of the theatre. But just wait, because once the girls let their freak flags fly, the fun begins. Amy soon pulls a Lester Burnham, not giving a f**k, and proudly might I add. This soon causes an all out war between her and Gwendolyn (what’s her damage?), resulting in the basis of the rest of the movie.
Alright, so let’s rip the band-aid clean off. Like a lot of comedies these days, not every joke works. Certain gags are overstretched. Some of it is predictable and cliche, featuring multiple slow motion party sequences, typically set to terrible songs (The “Hey Mama” sequence being an exception). And lastly, the film does have serious moments that I never found fully convincing. Though, I admired the filmmakers’ attempts to ground things in reality (because up until that point, it’s all sort of dreamy).
But all of that is forgiven, for me at least. That might be enough to seal the deal for you, but this great cast sealed the deal for me on the opposite end of the spectrum. Kunis and Bell are their usual charming selves. Hahn is the obvious scene-stealer though. I have seen Hahn play this kind of character time and time again, and you know what? I can continue to do so. She does it repeatedly for a reason: she’s great at it.
And then there’s Applegate, who has perhaps the trickiest role. Gwendolyn is a scorpion-woman, as Ron Burgandy would say. She’s a perfectionist, she’s kind of psychotic. Hell, she even has a son named Gandhi. This is a character that we’re supposed to hate, and maybe you will. But maybe I just love Applegate too much to hate Gwendolyn. Like the rest of the ladies at play here, Applegate, even at her most vicious, has such marvelous comic timing. She makes Gwendolyn sing.
And again, the funny moments in Bad Moms also help it rise above mediocrity. Of course some of it lands with a mild thud, but for the most part, these Bad Mothers are great company. Considering the disaster this film could’ve been, I’m thankful it wasn’t.
Oh yeah, and it’s directed by two men. Who saw that coming?