A Bad Moms Christmas
Written and Directed by: Scott Moore, Jon Lucas
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, Peter Gallagher
Following on the heels of their breakout hit last summer, Bad Moms’ Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn return to deliver a Yule tide surprise with Bad Moms Christmas. This time, co-writer-directors Scott Moore and Jon Lucas bring the mom’s moms (Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon) along for the ride as they all rediscover the meaning of Christmas Spirit.
The film opens amidst a chaotic and destroyed living room with Amy Mitchell (Kunis) in tears. She opens up to we, the audience, to bring us up to speed about how she’s ruined Christmas for her entire family. As she elaborates, the story backs up a couple of weeks to the start of the chaos. We all know how much the holidays can be a struggle for moms as they struggle to give the most perfect Christmas they know how.
For Amy, she struggles with a broken family and a boyfriend, Jesse (Jay Hernandez) with a daughter. Things go from stressful to downright bad when her parents, Ruth (Baranski) and Hank (Peter Gallagher) show up. Moore and Lucas made a point to paint Amy and Ruth’s relationship in a sporting, claws-all-out type battle to offer the most supreme Christmas. The realization of why they try to one-up another at the end of the film is the hallmark (please, pardon my pun) reason why families struggle at this time of the year. I found this duo’s resolution to be the most satisfactory. Both Ms. Kunis and Ms. Baranski seemed to enjoy themselves. It helped that their natural acting abilities and their past experiences were a good match for their characters and their own personalities.
In the other corner is Kiki (Bell). She remains the demure mom of the group as her mom, Sandy (Hines) spends most of the movie trying to ingratiate herself in their lives. Even psychiatric help can’t solve this mother-daughter duo’s issues, but it results in some truly hilarious moments. I felt like this combination didn’t work as well as it could have. Ms Hines and Ms. Bell played their roles too close together and their relationship struggles came off as clichéd rather than genuine, though the reason for their dysfunction is touching.
And then there’s Carla (Hahn) and her mom, Isis (Sarandon). Of the three mother-daughter combinations, their story is the most human. Neither wants anything to do with the other and yet, they need each other more than ever. Carla has a job in a salon and it gives her the perfect opportunity to be as profane, lewd and raunchy as Ms. Hahn can take her character. Ms. Sarandon approached the character as if she was a cross between a gypsy and a trucker, and she relished every moment of her performance. She was a realist as was her daughter, and that’s why I liked their relationship.
None of the laughs in Mr. Moore’s and Mr. Lucas’s script felt forced or out of place, but the humor got to be a bit over the top as each family tried to improve on their gamesmanship. In the end, they managed to bring the meaning of Christmas right-side up. At an estimated budget of $28 million, I would hardly be surprised if this film isn’t another breakout.
2 out of 4 stars