Review: Bad Moms
Bad Moms has three jokes going for it, but at least these three jokes are funny, and repeatedly so, which makes them bearable.
Joke #1: The three female protagonists, the titular Bad Moms (Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn and Mila Kunis) do their version of “bad” things, (such as invade a grocery store), set to a pop song and shot in slow motion. This sequence is repeated quite a few times throughout the film, and yet is funny because they are women, not men, and because their transgressions are not very transgressive, (the scenes feel very redolent of The Hangover, unsurprisingly so).
Joke #2: Kathryn Hahn says something filthy in a completely straightforward way. Surely there were a lot of ruined takes, and outtakes from the film will be filled with crack-ups. However, the film is a comedy (ostensibly), and other than Hahn and Annie Mumulo, none of the leads are comedic actresses (Bell, Jada Pinkett Smith, Christina Applegate, and especially the main lead Kunis are funny “in theory”, but in practice the main leads just are not that funny, which makes Hahn stand out even more (again, this parallels The Hangover, which divided comedic Ed Helms, Ken Jeong and Zach Galafanakis with the non-comic Bradley Cooper and Justin Bartha, left on a rooftop for much of the first film).
Joke #3: Kunis works at a start-up (a coffee company), and most of the employees, especially her boss Dale (Clark Duke), are not only younger than her, but she is the only adult working at the place, as the others are man and woman-children, (definitely shades of The Hangover).
The fact that writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore created the Hangover films (and The Change-Up) before focusing on the plight of the Mom should come as little surprise. This film too is stuffed with surprise cameos and super easy targets and yet somehow feels a little like Mean Girls as well.
Essentially, when Bad Moms is trying to be funny, it’s funny. When it’s trying to be poignant, it’s less effective. The less said about Kunis’s Amy and her relationship with her husband Mike (David Walton), the better. In fact, every scene in which Kunis is trying to be pathetic is simply unbelievable because she is far too young and eye-catching to be out of touch and frumpy. The film at its most artificial simply seems artificial and needs to stick with the funny, (there is a poignant mid-credit sequence, but it’s mainly free of artifice).
Tonally, Bad Moms is back and forth, (and does not really establish if being a Bad Mom is the right thing to do or not). But in the end, it doesn’t really matter as long as the moral is to notice, cherish and celebrate our mothers.