By Leslie C. Halpern
The question of what constitutes a good mom lies beneath the surface of this raunchy comedy from the writers of The Hangover movie franchise.
Thirty-two-year-old over-achiever Amy (Mila Kunis) tries to be the perfect mother – making salads for her two kids’ lunches, cooking a good breakfast each morning before school, helping with their homework, driving them to after-school activities, and participating in the PTA. She also works full-time hours at her part-time job and takes on all the household responsibilities. She even works out at the gym once a week to maintain her lithe figure.
Calling It Quits
If only she were appreciated for her exhausting efforts. But her immature husband is having an online affair; her clueless boss can’t function without her; the kids blame her for their failures; and the micro-managing PTA president (Christina Applegate) plots against her every move. One particularly horrible day results in Amy’s decision to call it quits with everything. Her marriage is over; she’s through making lunches, and if that makes her a bad mom, then so be it.
This is where the film finally starts to get funny. Amy enlists two other disenfranchised mothers into her bad mom squad: Kiki, a wimpy home-schooler (Kristen Bell) with four kids and a controlling husband; and Carla, a foul-mouthed divorcee (Kathryn Hahn) ready to help Amy assert her independence. These three women fight against the traditional PTA moms to establish a new standard of what makes a good mom (in scenes reminiscent of Easy A, Election, Accepted, and Napoleon Dynamite).
The Raunch Factor
As might be expected, however, this film most resembles The Hangover, only this time with a three-woman wolf pack of 30-something moms. Amy is the attractive one ready to break some rules (ala Bradley Cooper as Phil). Kiki is the weak one in an abusive relationship where she needs to grow stronger (ala Ed Helms as Stu). Carla is the outrageous, unstable one who desperately wants to bond with others, but doesn’t know how (ala Zach Galifianakis as Alan).
As Amy engages in “bad mom” behavior such as drinking and grocery store mayhem, fun montages with lively music create a feminized version of popular The Hangover-type scenes. The raunch factor also plays a part in the movie, with F-bombs, brief full-frontal female nudity, and lots of talk about penises. One scene involving Bell in a zippered hoodie is sure to become a comedy classic.
Although the establishing scenes in the first 20 minutes or so hint at comedy rather than achieve it, the final 2/3 of the film make up for the slow start. There’s plenty of laugh-out-loud humor, particularly for women. With a cast of well-known actresses, a soundtrack of top-40 hits from the radio, the screenwriters of The Hangover crafting the story, and surprising end credits, Bad Moms pins the tail directly on the donkey (so to speak); and may even inspire discussions about what it means to be a good mom.
- Three moms of middle-school-aged children decide to go rogue for a while and ditch their routine responsibilities.
- Stars: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett, Annie Mumolo, Jay Hernandez
- Directors: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
- Genre: Comedy
- Run Time: 101 minutes
- MPAA Rating: R (for sexual material, full frontal nudity, language throughout, and drug and alcohol content)