A trio of downtrodden moms cut loose and raise hell in this unruly, crowd-pleasing comedy.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Bad Neighbours, Bad Santa, Bad Grandpa and now Bad Moms – does anyone else think this franchise is kind of all over the place? All kidding aside, contemporary R-rated Hollywood comedies have a fondness for taking something innately inoffensive and flipping it on its head. This time around it’s mums who are thrust to the forefront by the writers of The Hangover trilogy.
Mila Kunis plays Amy, an overworked and underappreciated single mother who is struggling to balance her kids and her career. Perpetually running late for work and after school activities, Amy’s patience with the ultra-demanding PTA President (Christina Applegate) begins to wear thin when faced with an upcoming bake sale. With her friends Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell) in tow, Amy vows to break free of the lofty expectations placed on mothers and challenge the President’s overbearing regime.
It’s the central trio of Kunis, Hahn and Bell that really make this movie worth your time. They bounce off one another with an energy that makes certain moments pop with laughter. The supermarket scene where the three let loose on unsuspected shoppers is hilarious and filled with clever wish fulfilment gags. The rest? Eh, it’s okay. Applegate’s performance as PTA President is great, if a little underused; I would’ve liked to see her really spread her wings as the malicious, middle-school soccer mum version of Regina George.
The film does take a few liberties with its characters too; Amy’s kids, Jane (Oona Laurence) and Dylan (Emjay Anthony), disappear off-screen whenever it suits the plot, whilst the bulk of the parental characters are cookie-cutter stereotypes that lack depth. Hahn plays the trashy trainwreck mom and Bell fits the bill as a meek stay-at-home pushover. Of course, Amy isn’t lumbered with such glaring flaws; her valiant effort to have it all is only blighted by the limited number of hours in the day.
Credit where credit is due, the film does convey a heartfelt message about the importance of motherhood. Writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore settle on broad and easily palatable stuff for their intended audience, which is both a blessing and a curse. If you’re feeling generous, Bad Moms ends on a sugary sweet note that is earnest and profound. If you’re not, one could argue that it doesn’t take any risks, choosing instead to steer clear of offering any truly insightful commentary on the suffocating societal expectations that are placed on mothers. Maybe that’s asking too much of what is essentially a conveyor belt comedy spearheaded by the dudebros behind The Change-Up.
It’s far from great, but considering the current crop of crass Hollywood comedies, you could do a lot worse than Bad Moms. Save for a few missteps, the film packs in enough laughs to provide a diverting romp for its core audience.
Bad Moms is available in Australian cinemas from August 11
Image courtesy of Roadshow Films