R | 1h 41 m | Comedy| July 29, 2016
“Bad Moms,” in 2016, was the latest in a string of movies featuring the word “Bad” in the title: “Bad Santa,” “Bad Teacher,” and so on. These generic titles, sort of like the Shop Rite and Walmart versions of, say, Kool-Aid, or Pop-Tarts, belied the fact that they’re pretty funny movies, albeit R-rated, and therefore leaning more heavily than most on the raunch factor for laughs.
Therefore, as they say, never judge a movie by its title. “Bad Moms,” at the time, was laugh-till-you-cry hilarious. The last time a movie had been this funny was the previous time Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell were also in the same movie together: “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” “Bad Moms” is funnier.
Kunis plays Amy, a mom who’s always running late: late getting the kids to school, late getting to her job at the café, late to PTA meetings, late to soccer practice, getting dinner on the table, making stuff for the bake sale, and constructing a giant paper maché bust of Richard M. Nixon for her son’s history school project. Moms the world over can likely relate to this chronic lateness.
Amy’s got four children: a whiny brat of a girl-child, an entitled boy-child, a husband-child, and a dog-child. Four kids.
It slowly dawns on Amy (Mila Kunis) that she’s fed up with trying to be a perfect mom, in “Bad Moms.” (STX Productions)
Rushing everywhere in the minivan, she always looks fabulous despite the inevitable spilled coffees, bits of food, and stains that always end up smeared on moms, creating that little percolating cloud of dirt like Pigpen from “Peanuts.”
She can do this—look fabulous—because she’s Mila Kunis, movie star. But you recognize immediately she’s standing in as the archetype, telling the story of moms everywhere that desperately needed to be told. I wonder how many times “You go girl!!” was heard in the theaters. One must root for Mila’s character, the “bad” mom, because she’s truly a good mom—she tries so hard.
Amy (Mila Kunis), is suddenly fully fed up and just not going to take it anymore, in “Bad Moms.” (STX Productions)
But things come to a head—how much Sisyphean lateness due to superhuman multitasking can one woman take? Especially when badgered to distraction by … the antagonist, the head of the PTA—a “good” mom, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate). Such a Nazi, this woman; she and her little band of cohorts. High school’s mean girls often grow up to be these kinds of mean moms.
(L–R) Amy (Mila Kunis), Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), Stacy (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Vicky (Annie Mumolo), in “Bad Moms.” (STX Productions)
Anyway, at some point, Amy’s had it with the pressure and the meanness, and decides to run for president of the PTA on the “Bad Mom” platform. Any backers? “Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?” Crickets. Nobody wants a piece of it. All the moms are heavily in denial.
Luckily, some wisdom starts to happen in that Amy gets some girlfriends. It takes a village to raise a child (Hillary got that part right), and women used to band together as gatherers, and men as hunters. The American nuclear family concept deviated from tradition long ago; we started losing wisdom when we started putting grandparents into old-folks homes so they couldn’t help out with kids as was always the case in tribal life down through the ages. All of this accounts for chronic lateness in moms, but more of this sociology tangent, that you already know, later.
(L–R) Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) behave badly in a supermarket, in “Bad Moms” (STX Productions)
Amy’s newly found mom friends are Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn in a career-escalating role of immense brazen hussy hilarity that should have immediately scooted her from perennial character actress to, if not exactly movie-star, then much better known).
(L–R) Kiki (Kristen Bell), Amy (Mila Kunis), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) behave badly in a movie theater, in “Bad Moms” (STX Productions)
They go on a Bad Mom rampage—one of the funniest montages in the film. Descending upon the local supermarket, they outrageously indulge and claim their inner bad moms together; they shower in upended, opened boxes of Lucky Charms with mouths wide open, they chug chocolate milk, they indulge in general bacchanalian flailing abandonment (pausing to collectively coo over a baby in a stroller) and cause the macho store security guard to run for his life. It’s possible you will hoot at these shenanigans.
(L–R) Kiki (Kristen Bell), Amy (Mila Kunis), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) behave badly in a bar, in “Bad Moms” (STX Productions)
Cat’s Out of the Bag
Like Thelma awakening to her inner, talented, stick-up artist in “Thelma & Louise,” there’s no going back. To top off this trend, Amy whips the dust cover off her (now separated) hubby’s true darling—a gleaming cherry-red ’69 Dodge Challenger with chromed Cragar mag rims and low-rumble exhaust. She starts burning rubber, chirping tires, and screeching up sideways at the school curb, with the (now delightedly grinning) kids in tow.
And so, somewhere around here is when she goes from “bad” mom to cool mom. The movement begins to spread, and the race for the PTA is on.
Now owning her laid-back attitude with confidence, she tells her son to learn to cook his own food, grow the heck up, and stop feeling entitled—otherwise, she tells him, he’s going to develop into a shallow schmuck. She says she doesn’t want him growing a moustache later in life and superficially pretending he’s inwardly interesting when he’s just not.
As mentioned, Hahn is hilarious; it’s a Melissa McCarthy-type role; the type that SNL alums Anna Gasteyer and Molly Shannon could also easily slam-dunk, but this is a prime example of being in the right role at the right time. Kristen Bell’s great too, and so is David Walton as Amy’s fretting, man-child husband.
Mike (David Walton), Amy’s ne’er do well arrested-development boy-husband, in “Bad Moms.” (STX Productions)
However, Kunis owns the whole movie. Watch her imbue every tiny smidgen of time truthfully, be effortlessly funny, look fabulous, and teach the women. She gives a great bad mom stump speech too.
Ultimately, it’s a collective cast-chemistry thing. You can tell early on the directors had loads of fun, tapped into the group’s rhythm and timing, and the comedy started cooking.
“Bad Moms” points out the (largely American) societal need for women to go do a women’s weekend, where they rediscover universal sisterhood, and stop pressuring and judging each other about how they raise their kids. Because, as is often mentioned in “Bad Moms,” who can raise kids properly nowadays, with rampant cell phone usage? And now critical race theory and children’s minds burdened with options of whether they should transition? It’s impossible.
(L–R) Oona Laurence (L), and Mila Kunis) play daughter and excellent mom having themselves a spa day, in “Bad Moms” (STX Productions)
And men need to do a men’s weekend where men learn to balance their warrior-lover-magician-king quadrants and learn how to not be the worthless wretches women often (and often rightfully) see them as. Because the men of “Bad Moms” are Bad Dads and Bad Husbands. When masculine and feminine are fully polarized and balanced again and the five million genders have gotten some common sense and reverted back to just the two original, classic, basic ones—we’ll finally get some peace and quiet around here. And kids who behave. Do it. Go do it now. It takes a village.
Okay, that’s enough sociology. Like I said, call the movie “Cool Moms.” And since this is really Kunis’s show, maybe just “Cool Mom.” Actually, since there’s a credit-roll segment with all these mom/actresses chatting with their real-life moms—just call it “Moms.”
Movie poster for “Bad Moms” (STX Productions)
Directors: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie Mumolo, Oona Laurence, Jay Hernandez, David Walton
Running Time: 1 hours, 41 minutes
Release Date: July 29, 2016
Rated 3.5 stars out of 5