2016, R, 101 min. Directed by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore. Starring Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Wendell Pierce, David Walton, Jay Hernandez.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., July 29, 2016
To quote Lisa Simpson (paraphrasing H.L. Mencken?): “You’ll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator.” That’s been Hollywood’s mantra since more or less forever, and the latest example arrives in the form of Bad Moms, a film that does exactly what you think it’s going to do: depict unappreciated mothers losing their shit, behaving badly, and coming out the other side with an understanding that no one knows what we are doing in this life, that we’re all just faking it till we make it, and a few other tried and true aphorisms wrapped up in a bow of raunchy shenanigans and jokes about Zumba and Blue Bloods.
Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the duo best known for birthing the Hangover films, Bad Moms falls into an increasingly specific subgenre geared toward a girls’ (in this case: moms!) night out (Sex and the City, Bridesmaids, Fifty Shades of Grey, anything Nicholas Sparks), which on the one hand is great, as some of the jokes are actually hilarious, but on the other hand, the film tends to treat its characters as silly anomalies (girls can have hangovers, too!).
Bad Moms pits overworked mother of two Amy (Kunis) against PTA president and perfect human being Gwendolyn (Applegate) as they vie for the hearts and minds of the most generic Chicago suburb ever committed to film. Amy has allies in Carla (Hahn, brilliant, and the best thing about the film), a randy single mom who instigates most of the bad behavior, and Kiki (Bell), a mousy mom who eventually finds her voice. The chemistry between the three is what makes Bad Moms rise above the mediocrity that looms in the shadow of every frame. Jokes about anal sex and cameos by the likes of Martha Stewart and Wanda Sykes help or hinder as the case may be, but know that your level of enjoyment is directly proportional to how many drinks you’ve had. My advice: Make it a double.