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Some critics and audience members have said they have suffered from superhero fatigue. I personally am suffering fatigue involving the releases of R-rated Hollywood comedy movies – similar flicks that believe swearing and having raunchy material is a substitute for being funny. Bad Moms continues this horrific trend in mainstream comedies.
Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) is a hard working mother of two kids in the suburbs of Chicago. She is overworked at home and at work and her life gets a lot worse when she finds out her husband has been having an affair online and after having the day from hell she adopts a ‘screw it’ attitude and starts to live a life of leisure with her new friends – stay-at-home mum Kiki (Kirsten Bell) and man-eating single mum Carla (Kathryn Hahn). However Amy’s new outlook puts her into conflict with PTA President Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her clique of friends.
Bad Moms comes from the writers of the first Hangover movie, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and is the second movie they have directed. Apart from The Hangover, Lucas and Moore’s filmography has been unremarkable and Bad Moms continues this unfortunate trend. The movie does little to stand out from its contemporaries and joins the unpleasant mass of mediocrity.
What Bad Moms‘ wanted to be was the adult version of Mean Girls – Amy is a woman that could join the clique of ‘perfect moms’ if she really wants to, but instead allies herself with the freaks and outsiders. Even the dynamic of Gwendolyn’s clique is similar to Regina’s group, Gwendolyn is the rich tyrant, both groups have the obligatory black friend and Vicky (Annie Mumulo) is like Amanda Seyfried’s Karen: the nice but dim one. Despite Bad Moms being more adult in nature, Mean Girls is the more sophisticated movie – so stick with the high school set film.
Bad Moms is also confused with what story it wants to tell. There were three main storylines – one where Amy can finally make friends and let her hair down, plus Amy’s conflict with Gwendolyn and her group and a subplot where Amy might finally find “the one” in the form of sexy Latino widower Jessie (Jay Hernandez). Sometimes the movie is focused on Amy and pals going out and trying to find a man, otherwise it was about Gwendolyn being prepared to ruin Amy and her daughter’s life resulting in Amy running against her rival for the PTA presidency.
Bad Moms does attempt to have a theme about modern motherhood and childhood, the struggles between the work-life balance and how kids can be as overloaded as adults. These themes would carry more impact if Bad Moms was set in a world resembling our reality. Bad Moms is set in a world where fathers do not seem to want any involvement in their children’s lives – the only father that does anything with his child is because the mother isn’t around. Amy’s oldest child, Jane (Oona Laurence) is turned into a mini-adult, getting stressed about everything in her life as she becomes obsessed with going to an Ivy League college: a girl who is just 12 years old. There is comedic exaggeration and then there is just plain stupid. When the conflict reaches its climax it leads to questions like wouldn’t social services or the police get involved? When Kiki’s husband was introduced and dominates his wife it gave Bad Moms an unintentionally dark under tone.
Bad Moms also suffers from hackneyed screenwriting and direction. The movie does little to differentiate itself from similar films, having the same tired plot points and tropes with all three women having a predictable character arc. Comedy can be one of the hardest genres to write yet it can have a standard plot. The casting of Kathryn Hahn was a cynical attempt to make a break-out character like Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids – a woman who has no filters, allowing her to say ‘outrageous’ things and do anything she wants. Lucas and Moore use the same directing tricks during the run time: their favorite was using slow-mo and pop songs during a montage of moms behaving badly. Even the setting is the same as some recent comedies – Bad Teachers and The Boss also using Chicago and makes one wonder if Chicago has suffered enough. Bad Moms was at its most inventive during the credits showing actresses being interviewed with their real-life moms.
The movie does have a strong comedic cast – some of Mila Kunis’ best work has been in comedy, Kristen Bell has shown she had a biting wit in Veronica Mars and Christina Applegate has plenty of experience working in comedy. Despite the failings from the writing/directing duo the cast at least gives it a go and provide some minor laughs. My personal favorite was Amy’s failed attempts to pick-up men for the first time in 12 years, even if it has ridiculous idea that men wouldn’t be interested in Mila Kunis.
Bad Moms is far from being the worst comedy or R-comedy movie of the year – the competition is too strong in the form of Bad Grandpa and The Boss. However 2016 has been a terrible year for comedies and Bad Moms does nothing to change this – being another uninspiring comedy to come from the Hollywood conveyor belt.