Crude comedies are wonderful. Yes, they are a dime a dozen these days and have almost replaced the PG-13 romantic comedy romp but so be it. Those movies on the whole had become a dumpster fire of regret, peddling tired stereotypes and 1950’s gender tropes. Which is why I was excited to see Bad Moms – a movie with a terrible title and an A+ cast. It’s a crude comedy that works to subvert those gender stereotypes while simultaneously embracing the silliness an R-rating provides.
Bear in mind – no one will mistake Bad Moms for a good movie. Its sitcom gloss and episodic style could’ve made a decent Netflix series but here hinders its momentum. Still – I laughed…a lot. It’s the kind of movie that will excel on HBO. There are moments when the cast elevates the material, rising above the set pieces to find real emotion but they are few and far between. Yet despite my reservations I still would happily recommend Bad Moms – a movie so inconsequential that it feels sort of progressive.
Mila Kunis is Amy – a mother of two – is at her wits end. She works full time even though she’s employed part time, has a successful husband in real estate (a slovenly David Walton) who is essentially a third child and least of all the PTA breathing down her neck. After one day of slips, mishaps and coffee spills she loses it on Gwendolyn (a broadly hilarious Christina Applegate) – the President of the PTA – and storms out of a PTA meeting. Couple that with the fact she walked in on her husband having…ahem…relations with his online-only girlfriend – it hasn’t been a great day.
Amy slinks to a local pub and meets two fellow castoffs. Kiki (Kristen Bell) is a lonely mom who watches after her monstrous family and supports a relatively absentee husband. She’s next to Carla (Kathryn Hahn) – a single mom with a penchant for hooking up with anyone who will look her way. The trio bonds immediately over their hate for the status quo – the normal day-to-day is almost insurmountable. Soon the ladies are blitzed and terrorizing a local grocery store (in one of the films funniest montages) while Carla makes out with the old-timey store manager.
What follows is a cavalcade of debauchery as these women embrace their inner-Seth Rogen and, despite the movies pedestrian makeup, it mostly works. This may be because the best friend is played by the irreplaceable Kathryn Hahn (give this woman her own movie!) Hahn is an incredible talent – a person who has been elevating material on the small and big screen for years. Just her presence in a single scene of Parks & Recreation is enough to lift the entire episode. As Carla she is no different. She is often given the weirdest jokes too and delivers them perfectly. Her hysterical performance lifts everyone around her, including her co-stars. Kristen Bell plays the sheepish Kiki with a manic twitch that slowly evolves into something sweet and also a bit terrifying; while Mila Kunis – tasked with the straight man routine – does her very best with a mostly thankless role.
Bad Moms certainly could have said more about what actual mothers go through. It could have commented on what is often a thankless job but one that is so vital and so important and it often goes unnoticed (i.e. Amy does her son’s homework without any thanks or acknowledgement. That said, it’s a hell of a paper-mâché Richard Nixon head.) These moments are too few and far between but I still won’t dismiss the movie off-hand. This exact comedy is made 5-times a year with an all-male cast and is praised for its reckless abandon (me included.) Bad Moms is certainly inspired by them and offers a different perspective and while it doesn’t revolutionize the medium, at least it revels in it.