Synopsis: When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun, and comedic self-indulgence.
Stars: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Hernandez, Annie Mumolo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Christina Applegate, David Walton
Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Running Length: 101 minutes
TMMM Score: (3/10)
Review: Man, 2016 has just not been a great year for mom movies. I’m barely over April’s otherworldly awful Mother’s Day (RIP Garry Marshall) and now Bad Moms has been plunked down on our cinematic doorstep like a heap of garbage. Not only is the movie tone-deaf, stupid, tiring, and boring, but the way it squanders the talent of every single cast member is really something for the record books. Like the recent Ghostbusters reboot, here is a movie that doesn’t know what to do with its perfectly capable but script stymied stars.
The first hurdle to overcome is buying the fact that 32-year-old Mila Kunis (Ted) has a 12-year-old. Yeah, I know mathematically it works but throughout the film when sharing scenes with her two awkward children (that look nothing like her in the slightest) she looks like their babysitter instead of their mom.
Kunis is Amy, a hard-working mother of two who manages to get everything done without any help from her slacker husband or her emotionally stunted (read: awful and spoiled) tykes. In addition to her mom duties, her part-time job for a coffee company has her putting in 40+ hours a week. So it’s easy to see why she’s just a tad stressed when Gwyneth, the head of the PTA (a disappointingly comatose Christina Applegate, Vacation) and her two cronies (Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumalo, Joy) puts a target on her for bringing store-bought food to the school bake-sale. Working with two other PTA-averse moms (Kristen Bell, The Boss and Kathryn Hahan, Bad Words), Amy decides to challenge Gwyneth in the upcoming PTA election.
That’s pretty much all she wrote folks, or in this case all he wrote or, more to the point, all they wrote because director/screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore don’t bother to do anything original or, I dunno, funny with this material. Though Bell’s hapless simp is fleetingly amusing and Hahn gets in some dandy zingers clearly ad libbed on the spot, the bulk of the film is an astoundingly lame exercise in men writing about the secret life of moms. For example, take Jada Pinkett Smith’s (Magic Mike XXL) uptight Stepford wife remarking after oogling dad-hunk Jay Hernandez (Suicide Squad), that she’d “let him put it in my”…well, I’ll let you fill in the location. That’s literally one of Pinkett Smith’s first and only lines in the film…what an impression.
Make no mistake about it, I have no objection to a movie going crass in style. Plenty others have shown they can do it well but here it’s so uncomfortable to witness you’ll be tempted to watch certain scenes through splayed fingers normally reserved for horror movies. Hahn knows her way around raunchy material but even she looks like she’s totally over her dialogue comprised mostly of F-bombs and synonyms for the female anatomy. Kunis is pleasant enough but seems out of place with Bell and Hahn…I would have loved to see her switch roles with Applegate because both actresses seem to be pining to be playing any other role than their own.
At 101 minutes the film could be a good 10 minutes shorter without the numerous slo-mo scenes of bad mom debauchery. The first time it’s used to good effect in a late-night grocery store rampage but it soon wears out its welcome, as does the tendency to blast a pop song every three minutes to punctuate scene shifts. It’s a sloppy movie that comes in well below the taste level I’d expect of this group of otherwise pleasant actors.
As much as I disliked this film on the whole, I have to say the end credits may just be the best I’ve seen all year. Interviews with Kunis, Bell, Hahn, Pinkettt Smith, Applegate, and Mumalo sitting next to their real life moms provides more laughs and heart than the preceding 98 minutes. What a shame Lucas and Moore didn’t start with these interviews and find some inspiration for the screen moms they created. Maybe they would have been more than just male cartoon visions of what moms look and sound like.