A Bad Moms Christmas
2017, R, 94 min. Directed by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore. Starring Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Susan Sarandon, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski, Peter Gallagher, Jay Hernandez, Justin Hartley.
REVIEWED By Danielle White, Fri., Nov. 3, 2017
Less a sequel and more of a holiday special shitshow spectacular, A Bad Moms Christmas explores many of the same tropes as its predecessor. Taking place roughly two years later, it’s the same idea of “perfect” pitted against the mildly deranged, or, er, “realistic” – the dichotomy between a Pinterest board and a “nailed it” meme. The storyline swaps the PTA circus for something a bit closer to home: The three Bad Moms’ bad moms drop in about a week ahead of Christmas, each presenting a caricature as ridiculous as that of their three daughters. There’s Amy’s mom Ruth (Baranski), uptight and denigrating, prompting flashbacks to The Ref; Kiki’s mom Sandy (Hines), creepy and overbearing; and Carla’s mom Isis (Sarandon), the party mom, flaky and neglectful. The OG bad moms (Kunis, Bell, and Hahn, respectively) vow to “take Christmas back” by attempting to insert more chill into the bloated and over-commercialized holiday season, which apparently involves bingeing on hard liquor and twerking on the nearest mall Santa. Who knew?
For all its run-of-the-mill dick jokes and slapstick humor, the antics are fairly funny, in that you-know-what-you’re-getting-yourself-into kind of way (both Bad Moms films are written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the duo responsible for the Hangover scripts). The comedic parts are mostly dialogue-driven, and a little bit guilt-inducing, as I laugh at Susan Sarandon not remembering her own grandson’s name. But, alas, these are the jokes. And why mess with a good thing? Bad Moms was one of the most profitable films of 2016, and we definitely have not seen the last of this franchise (sources indicate there is a Bad Dads in the making – what even is life?).
There’s certainly something “fun” in the dysfunctional, but where both movies seem to veer off course is in their saccharine conclusions. Amy’s dad Hank (Gallagher) is practically silent the entire film, until it comes time to deliver a rousing speech, a vehicle for his daughter’s redemption. Isn’t the Hallmark card sentimentality a feature of the establishment this hedonistic assortment is supposed to be railing against? It’s understandable that the conflicts need some type of resolution. It’s just that I was expecting something a little less over-the-top, a little less shiny, and not so neatly packaged.