Movie Review: “A Bad Moms Christmas”
Christmas can be a stressful time of year for a mother, such as Amy (Mila Kunis). She has to deal with gifts, decorations, school plays, and so much more. It truly is “a moms Super Bowl”. As if the added pressure of Christmas was not enough to set Amy over the edge, she finds out that her mother, Ruth (Christine Baranski), is visiting for the holidays. Not only is her mother visiting, but Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla’s (Kathryn Hahn) mothers will be visiting as well.
With Ruth we have a controlling and strict mother who has her own, very specific vision of how Christmas should be celebrated, and Amy’s way is never good enough. With Kiki’s mom, Sandy (Cheryl Hines), we have an overly attached mother who has no boundaries and (if she had it her way) would move in with (and probably sleep in the same bed as) Kiki, just to be closer. With Carla’s mother, Isis (Susan Sarandon), we have a free-loading, rebellious mother who is always drinking, always looking for a way to scam others, and only shows up in Carla’s life when she needs money. Amy, Kiki, and Carla are nearly at their breaking points due to the pressures of Christmas, but adding their insane mothers to mix will surely be a recipe for disaster.
The Pros & Cons
Kathryn Hahn (+6pts)
Desperate Comedy (-5pts)
Mika Kunis (+5pts)
Grandmoms Christmas (-4pts)
The Premise (+3pts)
Pro: Kathryn Hahn (+6pts)
I loved her in the first film and she is just as hilarious in the second. If you were not a fan of this raunchy and vulgar character in the first movie, then you will not be a fan of hers here. However, if you enjoyed this character in the first film then you will enjoy this character in the second. Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell deliver comedy but it is clean comedy, so when Kathryn Hahn delivers profane and raunchy comedy, it feels different. For some, this will come across as desperate and out-of-place, but I found her character to be hilarious.
Kathryn Hahn has such a talent for comedic roles like this. She nails this raunchy character, but she does so while delivering a great performance. Sure, her character is crazy, hilarious, and over-the-top but this lady can act. She adds some depth to this character and subtly delivers a dramatic performance under the facade of this exaggerated, vulgarity. She has a great comedic mind that had me laughing throughout this film, but she is able to simultaneously deliver a dramatic performance which keeps the audience intrigued (something that is very important for the development of her character).
Con: Desperate Comedy (-5pts)
I was a huge fan of the first film, but a lot of this film‘s comedy came across as desperate. What I mean by that is that it seemed like the filmmakers tried to force comedy in a lazy and generic way rather than write a clever script. The film starts with The Hangover scene, which is a flash forward scene that shows Mila Kunis sitting at her house while surrounded by the carnage and destruction of a holiday party. Furniture is destroyed, the room is an absolute mess and there is even a generic random animal.
This scene bummed me out a bit because I knew exactly where this film was going and knew that the filmmakers would be giving us a cookie cutter raunchy comedy. Unfortunately, I was right. The comedy, for the most part, did not work for me. It seemed like the filmmakers delivered material that was “supposed to be“ funny rather than creating original and truly amusing material. I simply felt that this film was made like there is a comedy-movie equation where you can take something funny, switch up the variables, and the result will also be funny. Unfortunately, the comedy did not work for me as it came across as lazy and desperate, so please comment below if you saw this film and felt differently.
Pro: Mika Kunis (+5pts)
Mila Kunis is a strong actress. She has been in some fun movies and she has been in some flops. This movie falls right in the middle (in my opinion) but I thought she did a decent job in the role. She was funny, has good chemistry with her supporting cast, carries the generic plot, and adds a lot of heart. The film is very far from perfect, but Mila Kunis is a big reason why the film works at all. Her scenes with her mother had comedy and drama, and both worked. Especially towards the end of the film, there is some real dramatic material related to Christmas and the burden it puts on parents (though the film focuses on mothers). Mila Kunis and Christine Baranski handle this really well. It is real drama that occurs in the midst of a comedy-heavy film. The drama works, and take nothing away from Christine Baranski (because she gave an excellent performance as well), but Mika Kunis is able to bring a lot of heart to this film.
Con: Grandmoms Christmas (-4pts)
One of this film‘s biggest issues was that it introduces three new major characters. This movie suffers from the same problem as Daddy’s Home 2, by taking the main characters and introducing each of their parents. The filmmakers of Daddy’s Home 2 struggled with two additional characters, but film adds three. The film has an interesting premise that could make way for some unique comedy, but it ends up focusing way too much on these three new characters. Did the film really need to introduce each of the main character’s mothers? Did the film really need all three?
Each of these characters were entertaining enough, but the film ends up feeling very overcrowded. The filmmakers wanted to do a lot with the grandmothers and they wanted to do a lot of things that did not include the grandmothers but they really did not have enough time for everything. I felt like they bit off a bit more than they could chew and it was the interesting premise that suffered.
Pro: The Premise (+3pts)
I have already mentioned this, but I was a big fan of the first film. It provided an interesting twist on a comedy by focusing on moms who were tired of their mundane or routine lives. The first film was so much fun because it was unique so was filled with a lot of fresh comedy. My biggest fear of the sequel was that it would no longer feel fresh. The filmmakers answered this problem by setting this film during Christmas.
The sequel was now able to focus on Christmas by presenting it as “a moms super bowl“. This opens the door for a ton of unique comedy that is centered around mothers and their responsibilities during the holiday season. You do not have to be a mother to relate to this premise. Christmas can be a stressful time of year and it is not hard to imagine how these bad moms handle that stress.
Con: Predictable (-5pts)
After the first scene of the film, and after the grandmothers were introduced, I knew exactly where this film was going. The film’s opening scene shows the aftermath of the film’s climax. The film then jumps back and shows all the events leading up to the climax. For some films this type of storytelling works, for this film it ruins the journey. The last film was so much fun because it was unpredictable and stayed (mostly) in uncharted territory. This film tells you exactly where it’s going so the audience knows (more or less) what to expect, as well as when and where to expect it.
The film then introduces three new characters who each feel like a gimmick and it was obvious that the film would focus too heavily on these new characters. Their relationships with their daughters felt very generic which, coupled with the opening scene, created a very predictable film. Bad Moms was great because it was mostly unpredictable. A Bad Moms Christmas lost sight of that.
Grade: C+ (75pts)
This movie had some fun moments and some intriguing qualities but the writing seemed to suffer due to an overcrowded cast. The filmmakers found a winning combination with the first movie, Bad Moms. It provided a unique perspective by focusing on a group of moms who were fed up with their day-to-day lives. This provided plenty fresh comedy and a fun, unpredictable film. With A Bad Moms Christmas, the filmmakers had a premise that was centered around Christmas but had the perspective of being “a mom’s super bowl”.
There was a lot of potential for more fresh comedy and another fun, unpredictable film. Unfortunately the filmmakers seemed to struggle with the addition of three new characters. This film introduces the mothers of each of the three moms from the last film. I understand this idea but the film did not need all three and, by having all three, the film felt overcrowded. The grandmoms got way too much focus and the film ended up centering about the three mother-grandmother relationships instead focusing on the film’s unique perspective of the holiday season.
Kathryn Hahn was as hilarious and entertaining as ever, and Mila Kunis did a fantastic job by towing the line between comedy and drama while giving the film a lot of heart. It was definitely a fun cast with an interesting premise, but the crowded cast and writing issues resulted in a very generic, predictable film.