Director: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Jay Hernandez, Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie Mumolo, David Walton and Christina Applegate
Plot: Amy Mitchell (Kunis) is a hard-working mum, who only just balances work and her demanding kids. One day, she snaps and decides to do the bare minimum for a change.
From afar, Bad Moms looks a little skippable. A group of mums are fed up of striving to be the perfect parent and decide to take some time to themselves. Cue a drunken rampage in the supermarket, drinking on a school night and rediscovering their sexuality. It threatened to bleed into the bulk of party comedies out there and become lost into the drivel.
There was a lot of complaints at the missed opportunity of Bad Moms. There are a few scenes where the film threatens to divulge into a thought-provoking examination into the world of mothers. Mila Kunis works at a coffee distributor, while her lazy husband does less than nothing to help her with the busy household. Kristen Bell has four children and is constantly looking like she is lost in the rapids, rather than running a functioning family. Kathryn Hahn has not let go of her 20s. However, Bad Moms’ argument is to stop judging these struggling women and simply accept their situation. When Mila Kunis’ character, given one too many responsibilities at a vindictive PTA meeting, decides to stop trying to appear like the perfect mother and embrace her stereotype of being a ‘Bad Mom’, it is hard to feel too negatively towards her. Quite frankly, she is due a break. The film also has moments of poignancy where Mila Kunis sits her son down and gives him a well-written lecture on growing up. However, as the majority of viewers moaned about, these small flourishes of insightful social commentary are trapped in a film more concerned with the next rude joke or shot of someone consuming alcohol. There are a few dampeners on the quality of the film that harm the overall argument. It is commendable for the mothers to take a break, but when Mila Kunis’ mother reads that as an excuse to drive into incoming traffic and vandalise a supermarket, you can’t help but think there’s a strong difference between blowing off some steam and committing a serious felony. Also, while it’s clear that Kathryn Hahn’s job is to be the most vulgar of the three, it soon becomes clear that she isn’t a struggling mum, as much as she is, literally, a terrible mother. Her son pining for a hug in the film’s closing moments is pretty damning of the apparently funny character. These aren’t supposed to be counted towards the debate the writers are having, but likely strands of story that got lost somewhere along the way. Jokes that got out of control somewhere down the line. It remains to be said however, that in resorting to the more dumbed down gags, Bad Moms has lost its chance to be a thought-provoking movie about a group of mothers who are tired of being perfectionists.
Hang on, wait… did we miss the point? Maybe in not thinking too hard about the seriousness of the subject, Bad Moms was actually strengthening its argument all along. As a critic, we often sit back, enjoy films but end up tearing into them regardless, weighing up writer’s decisions and ranking other films of that genre in recent times. However, sometimes a film escapes the heavy criticism and succeeds in being an audience’s choice. In many ways, this – slight spoiler alert – syncs up nicely with the finale of the film, when the school has to choose between Christina Applegate’s serious, demanding PTA leader or Mila Kunis’ ‘girls just wanna have fun’ character. There is a reason there was a sequel to Bad Moms fired out a mere year after this movie was released. It responded well with the target audience – mothers who wanted their story told. The gags weren’t stomping out a well-worded argument, but providing escapism for its audience. It turns out that the thought of going wild for a few days resonates strongly with a lot of the mothers, suggesting that the team behind the film had its mind in the right place. Sometimes a movie doesn’t need to be perfect, but just has to go with the moment, have fun. In that regards, Bad Moms is a delightful success.
Final Verdict: Bad Moms is an easy film to condemn, but actually is bang on in all the right areas. It doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty damn funny.