Film & Television

Movie Review: Motherhood Takes a Holiday in ‘Bad Moms’

When I stepped into my local cinema on a recent sweltering afternoon, I had a question. Well, two questions, really. Would the air conditioning be working? And how bad would Bad Moms be?

Happily, the AC held up fine. And the movie — like its eponymous leading characters — wasn’t too bad at all. The audience at my matinee was all women, many clutching glasses of wine (the theatre serves drinks and bar snacks from an adjoining restaurant). And, if their reaction was any indication, Bad Moms is a laugh riot.

What was tickling their collective funny bone? One word. Relatability. After all, what overworked and underpaid mother hasn’t fantasized about running away from it all?

The Bad Moms plot is fairly simple. Amy, an earnest working mom, tries harder than anyone should have to. But, she can’t quite keep up with her couch potato husband, millennial boss, and entitled children.  “You’re late,” a perfectionist mother quips outside the school one morning. “Yes,” Amy admits, “It’s the only thing I seem to be good at these days.” She finally snaps at a fascist PTA meeting where she’s been “volunteered” to police the bake sale for any verboten ingredients, like wheat, eggs, nuts or sugar. Being a good mother has become absurd as well as impossible. So, Amy decides to be . . . bad.

She’s quickly joined by two other fed-up moms, friendless stay-at-home Kiki and partying single mother Carla. They make an unlikely threesome and proceed to rewrite the rules. There are vast quantities of alcohol involved, not to mention a sportscar, a texted booty call, and the ultimate crime for today’s mother: offering children store-bought doughnut holes. Eventually Amy challenges the school’s Queen Bee mother, Gwendolyn, when she runs for PTA President on a platform that preaches ‘hey, nobody’s perfect and we have cheap wine.’ Guess who wins?

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If the story is predictable, the cast is a delight. Mila Kunis stars as Amy. She became a familiar face 18 years ago on TV’s That 70s Show, and proved she could act (and dance) when she was arguably the best thing in 2010’s Black Swan. Here, she is at once revolutionary and endearing, holding the movie together and making the most of a less than inspired script. She’s well-matched by her bad mom lieutenants. Kristen Bell, a gorgeous woman who doesn’t seem to mind looking plain for a part, is appropriately naive and ditzy as Kiki. Meanwhile, Kathryn Hahn steals many scenes — if not the entire show — as the heavy-drinking, hook-up hunting Carla. (As an aside, I have long wished for Hahn to do a film with her slightly older doppelganger, comic Lisa Ann Walter — both women are hilariously funny, historically outshining the less than brilliant movies they’re typically cast in.) The relationship between the three women is fresh and funny and one of the most satisfying aspects of the movie.

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