Film Review: 'Bad Moms'
Opened: 26 August 2016 (UK)
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Annie Mumolo, Jay Hernandez, Jada Pinkett Smith, Christina Applegate
Directors: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Producers: Bill Block, Suzanne Todd
Having endured the soulless and moraly bankrupt Dirty Grandpa (Zac Efron, Robert DeNiro) I approached Bad Moms with a healthy dose of trepidation. They clearly look cut from the same cloth, depicting beloved members of the family acting like miscreants and abandoning any sense of honour. I’m not a prude, far from it, I just don’t like a movie that sends the wrong message without any consequences for the offending characters. That was where my mind was at when I sat down to watch Bad Moms, the latest offering from Directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore whose on-going partnership is responsible for The Hangover trilogy – a fact which did not help my paranoia about what I was about to watch.
Thankfully within the first 20 minutes it become clear that this movie has an actual point to make and is not only a succession of bawdy antics and women behaving badly, though that is what it does really well. The universal hero of the struggling but successful mother (Amy, played by Mila Kunis) takes centre stage after the worst day of her life and decides to be a ‘Bad Mom’ to teach her kids to stand on their own two feet, to take pressure off them and because she needs to cut loose. Not being a parent I have only heard about the modern obsession with extreme levels of extra curricular activities. Frankly the pressure on kids in the UK is frightening so it must be unfathomable in the competitive middle classes of the USA. Indeed the villain of the piece, the cold glassy eyed Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) sits at the head of the PTA committee and pushes this agenda of kids over achieving and controlling the other parents through her position. She is a tyrant!
Fortunately, for us, Amy is not alone in tackling Gwendolyn! Her two new dysfunctional friends Carla (Catherine Hahn) and Kiki (and Kristen Bell) dispatch brutal and joyfully unsophisticated comedy. There is an unlikely chemistry between these three very different outcasts that knits the film together and prevents it becoming a drunken cascade of titty and vagina jokes. The supporting cast supplies foils, punchlines and plot twists as required but while I love Jada Pinkett Smith camping it up (see TV series Gotham for her villain Fish), she is totally wasted here in a nothing part. She would have made an even better Gwendolyn than Christana Applegate, but that might also have complicated the dynamic of the struggle with Amy.
I don’t sense greatness for this movie but then that’s not its aim. It is a touching comedy with some seriously blue dialogue that will resonate with anyone who thinks mothers do an amazing job and need a break now and then.