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R-Rated comedies and Christmas are often great money spinners for Hollywood. So, the next logical step is to make a Christmas set sequel of an R-Rated comedy, leading to a pointless film.
Christmas is that magical time of year that brings families together. The downside is Christmas brings the crazy mothers of the first Bad Moms film. Amy (Mila Kunis) has an overly critical mother (Christine Baranski) who wants to hijack Amy’s plans for a simple Christmas, Kiki (Kristen Bell)’s mother (Cheryl Hines) is overly obsessed with her daughter and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) has a visit from her rock-n-roll, eternal traveller of a mother (Susan Sarandon). All three women have to learn to stand up to their mothers over the festive period.
Bad Moms and its sequel were written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore who are best known for writing The Hangover. The Hangover Part II (which Lucas and Moore had no involvement with) was infamous as a modern comedy sequel for repeating the plot of the first film. A Bad Moms Christmas is not a repeat of the first film of the plot but it does have some of the same themes, plot points and jokes – an issue that is prevalent in many comedy sequels. The invention of a Christmas plot where Amy tries to resist the Christmas onslaught is similar to Christmas With the Kranks, a Christmas film that shouldn’t be replicated.
In the previous film Amy challenged Christina Applegate’s Gwendolyn who rules the parents of the school with an iron fist when demanding perfection and conformity, leading to Amy rocking the system. In A Bad Moms Christmas Amy has an overbearing mother who takes over the house to give it an all-American Christmas makeover that only exists in the movies. Yet Amy’s mother, Ruth, has the same insecurities that every woman in the series has – questioning whether they a good mother but has to puts up a front.
The subplots involving Kiki and Carla were new for the series even if they are incredibly predictable. Kiki needs to stand up to her clingy mother and Carla’s mother, ‘comically’ named Isis, clearly is using her daughter for money. It is tiresome when you know the story beats are so unoriginal.
Hahn was the comedy MVP of the film. She is a comedian by trade so was able to improvise a lot of her material. One of her biggest set-pieces was when she got to wax a potential suitor’s (Justin Hartley) balls. The women in the audience were laughing their heads whilst all the men were crossing their legs. Otherwise the humor is based on montages, sex and the f-word being uttered, including a little girl saying ‘oh my fucking God’ twice. The montage where the moms go wild in the mall is the same as the one in the supermarket in the previous film whilst the other montage was just blatant product placement for Sky Zone.
Kunis and Bell have proven themselves in comedic roles but the material they had was weak, especially Kunis who has to swear to have something constituting a joke. Bell’s Kiki was so unwilling to upset her mother that she has no boundaries – but there is a reason behind it because Kiki’s mum, Sandy, had her daughter when she was 18 so was very close to her and after losing her husband, Kiki is the only family she has left.
When seeing Baranski on screen all I could think about her role as Beverly Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory. It is a similar role – an older woman who insults and belittles her grown-up child. The major difference between her characters is Beverly is more robotic. Baranski has specialized in playing bitchy characters so her role in A Bad Moms Christmas was role that was hardly challenging for her. Baranski’s character was also mildly racist, seeing Amy’s Hispanic boyfriend as the help and making the occasional comments about Jews. There is nothing that egregious, but it still needs to be commented on.
A Bad Moms Christmas does have some relatable moments – Christmas is a stressful period and mothers often have to do the work as my mum would testify. One bit that hit close to home was when Kiki said she had to do all the Christmas shopping – even for her husband’s relatives.
The film is following the adage from the poet Philip Larkin: ‘they fuck you up, your mum and dad’. The behavior of Isis and Sandy explains why Carla and Kiki are the way they are. However, Wanda Sykes in a role as the world’s worst family therapist blames Kiki for why her mother is so weird. Just no movie, no.
The R-Rated Hollywood comedy is a tired and unoriginal genre and giving it a Christmas twist doesn’t mask its problems. Some audience members did enjoy A Bad Moms Christmas but more seasoned cinemagoers will be bored and it was clearly just a paycheque for most of the actors.
For the love of God we do not need a Bad Moms 3.