Bad Moms is a light-hearted comedy about the trials of modern parenting.
The mothers in question aren’t truly bad – Cameron Diaz’s gold-digging Bad Teacher and Billy Bob Thornton’s boozy Bad Santa certainly leave the central characters’ antics for dead – but they do find themselves in a less than ideal situation.
Set in a middle class Chicago suburb, Bad Moms centres on Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis), a 32-year-old who is feeling overwhelmed as she juggles two busy pre-teens, a barely present husband, an incompetent boss and judgmental peers. But none of that compares to the ‘mom-sters’ of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA): Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), Stacy (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Vicky (Annie Mumolo), who all like nothing better than to pick on exhausted Amy.
Amy’s breaking point comes after she’s attended a four-hour PTA meeting, only to return home to discover her husband Mike (David Walton) is cheating on her. Kicking Mike out of the house, she decides that it is time she prioritised her own needs. Much to their dismay, she begins by refusing to do her “entitled” kids’ homework, forces them to make their own lunches, chooses not to follow ridiculous dietary restrictions enforced by the PTA for a school bake sale, and tells her boss that she will no longer work full-time when she’s only paid for three days a week.
Befriending a couple of similarly disgruntled mothers, including stay-at-home mum Kiki (Kristen Bell) and man-hungry single parent Carla (Kathryn Hahn), the trio set about shaking off the chains of modern motherhood.
“We all work too damn hard trying to make our kids’ lives amazing and magical,” observes Amy. “Their lives already are amazing and magical. Screw it. Let’s be bad moms.”
But for the most part, Amy’s rebellion isn’t too extreme and mostly involves partying, shopping, daytime movies and driving her ex-husband’s fancy car.
While it’s satisfying to see Amy feeling empowered, there’s an uneasy contradiction which arises in the finale, where she puts herself up against snarky Gwendolyn for the role of PTA president so that her daughter isn’t unfairly left out of the school soccer team. This conflicts against the entire premise of the first 70 minutes of the movie, in which we’re told over and over that mums work too hard for the benefit of their children.
Directed by The Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, Bad Moms is most definitely in the same vein as the 2009 hit, and contains lots of swearing, sexual banter and some rather funny moments where the trio has no option but to cut loose.
The performances are good, especially from Kunis and Bell, who elevate their characters above stereotypes and bring some empathy and humour to their parts. But the script doesn’t have any hugely memorable moments or lines, and I was kept wishing that the screenwriters had called on Mumolo, who co-wrote Bridesmaids, for input on the script.
That said, Bad Moms is an easy watch that should appeal to busy mums seeking some well-deserved time out.
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