The 400-Word Review: Bad Moms
By Sean Collier
August 1, 2016
There’s nothing wrong with the specific breed of pandering that Bad Moms, an alleged comedy directed by Hangover scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, engages in. Its basic message, repeated ad nauseum: Raising kids is hard, particularly for women who have to do so either alone or in the company of an unsupportive husband. Moreover, it’s so hard that women should not chastise themselves for the occasional failing, nor should they strive for an idyllic, suburban perfection.
That’s a lovely message. It’s just wrapped up in a very bad film.
Overworked Amy (Mila Kunis) strives for maternal perfection while holding down a part-time gig at a hipsterrific corporate co-op. When she learns that her doofus husband is carrying on a virtual affair with a far-off floozy, she boots him from the house and tries to go at it alone, bonding with a pair of local misfit moms (Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn). Stressed and worn thin, she runs afoul of the local PTA dictator (Christina Applegate), forcing her to take a stand against keep-up-with-the-Joneses tyranny.
The plot can’t support itself almost, from the get-go; Amy’s husband is disrespectful, helpless and obstructive, yet it takes an online dalliance for her to figure out she’s better off. Despite constantly trying to give herself less responsibility and stress, she spends the last 45 minutes of the film working tirelessly to take over the school. The children of each parent — nominally the motivating factor of all of this — disappear altogether whenever it’s convenient, sometimes for days at a time.
When Bad Moms is funny, it is so only by Herculean efforts from its performers. Kunis is more of an amiable presence than an actual comedic force, but Bell and Hahn — both remarkably underrated masters of big-screen comedy — wring some laughs out of the feeble script here and there. All three women are sympathetic, though that too has more to do with their natural charisma than anything on the page.
And whatever exec thought that Lucas and Moore should be given another opportunity to direct their own script after the dreadful 2013 mess 21 & Over should be immediately demoted to a vocation free of decision-making.
It’s a shame, because the message is one that deserves attention and the actresses are capable of fine work, which they have each demonstrated many times over. Hopefully no one holds this clunker against them.
My Rating: 3/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark