It’s hard to garner a lot of sympathy for any of the moms in Bad Moms. As the voiceover of Amy (Mila Kunis), our protagonist, expounds about her daily hair pulling hassles of motherhood, anyone who didn’t grow up with upper middle class privilege will immediately find this appalling. She works part time, goes to the grocery store every day and openly completes all of her son’s homework. Every time a problem in logic arose I had to remember this movie exists in a fantasy world where parents idle outside the middle school to greet and gossip with everyone who walks by and the head of the PTA has the hiring and firing abilities of a public school’s faculty. It’s a Mean Girls meets The Hangover and if you want any of it to make sense, you have to let go of any preconceived ideas of parenthood and allow the movie do its thing.
Bad Moms is a manchild premise mapped onto motherhood. Amy missed out on her twenties by having kids so young with her loser husband and is over following the rigid expectations of society to be a perfect parent. She embarks on a spree of joy riding, playing hooky and general misbehavior with timid Kiki (Kristen Bell) and actually negligent mother Carla (Kathryn Hahn). The central plot aside from the drastic personality change in these women is Amy stepping up to the head of The Plastics…I mean the super rich moms who run the PTA, mainly Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), who takes after school meetings and bake sales way too seriously. These rivalry scenarios can give a lot of free reign for characters to go big and wacky but what holds this film back is that they are still moms. It toes this fine line of shock value of older women behaving badly but you’re countered with being genuinely concerned for the children they’re overlooking. When Kiki ditches for four babies/toddlers (I’m still not sure why she was hanging around the middle school) to go have a lunch date with her friends, I couldn’t help thinking how distraught that last minute sitter must be considering how much of a handful those children are. I’m pro parents having social lives and not having to match unrealistic expectations but at the same time, these are your children. You can choose to take the Carla route of parenting wherein she doesn’t go to her son’s baseball games and instead gets drunk and hooks up with every guy in town but then you’re looking at a case for child services.
The movie is at its most fun when it goes into montage mode as the three friends throw a wild PTA rager, dancing until 11pm or rampage through a supermarket, tearing opening boxes of cereal and downing milk and kahlua. These high energy scenes are the brief moments where you ignore consequences and just watch them go crazy though I could have done without so many Top 40 and “girl power” pop songs. The film’s greatest asset is Kathryn Hahn who is a comedic gem on the level of Kate McKinnon in Ghostbuster. She gets all the best lines like “you had me at Nazi” and “I will fuck your husband” all while looking like a trashy mess. Her Plastics counterpart Vicky (Annie Mumolo) is equally jovial as the quintessential “dumb one” who I have a soft spot for. Particularly the middle of the movie is filled with laughs which gets packed with the rants like explaining an uncircumcised penis and a welcomed cameo by Wanda Sykes. The beginning relies too much on the hilarity of adults swearing and the assumption that viewers will identify with rich white lady problems and the ending wraps up too neatly as all is forgiven and the rivals instantly gets along.
This is a movie very obviously written by men. I don’t think filmmakers Scott Moore and Jon Lucas meant to be inept when it comes to understanding what women do with their time and how no woman in her right mind would attend that many PTA meetings. The post credits interviews with the actresses and their moms is perfectly sentimental and comes off as a tribute for all the moms who go through such obstacles to raise us right. I’m trying to view this purely on comedic merits, throwing out the contrived nature of so many scenes and overly soft lighting techniques, and while there’s some great banter between our three leads, a lot of the jokes and set pieces were rehashes. Making fun of Amy’s bra and the over the hill house party were quite similar to The Boss and Sisters respectively and there’s a line that is identical to Mean Girls iconic line; “she doesn’t even go here.” I don’t foresee a youthful demographic enjoying this movie because it’s about parenting, something they don’t want to consider and it’s not for actual parents because I can’t imagine them accompanying a premise where you can “quit” on the responsibilities of life especially concerning your kids. There’s not enough originality or big laughs to make this a comedy worth remembering.