A Bad Moms Christmas, 2017.
Written and Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, Jay Hernández, Oona Laurence, Justin Hartley, Peter Gallagher, Emjay Anthony, Lyle Brocato, Wanda Sykes, and Christina Applegate.
A Bad Moms Christmas follows our three under-appreciated and over-burdened women as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas.
It only takes about five minutes to reach the verdict that A Bad Moms Christmas (once again written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore who have the fortune of a full cast reunion) is one of 2017’s worst movies. There are creepy jokes about pre-pubescent breasts growing in (made even more weird considering that it’s one of the mothers’ memories), a young girl (Oona Laurence, who is actually quite the capable child actor, especially when dealt heavy subject material) given dialogue meant to mimic the heated sex talk she apparently overheard her mom Amy (Mila Kunis) yelling in the bedroom, a grandmother named Isis solely for the script to get in some cheap terrorist jokes, and who knows what other garbage my mind has thankfully wiped out.
For the record, Bad Moms was not an awful comedy at all; each of the three central women contained distinct personalities that were all separate from one another, and when placed in the same room it yielded some terrific chemistry. It would be wrong to say that dynamic does not exist here, but the original movie grounded these characters in reality to a degree. They felt like real moms, in some ways like our own, that are often devalued and taken for granted, finally given their moment to let off some steam while growing as adults. Sure, it was exaggerated and ridiculous, but there was an element of humanity to it that made the comedy, you know, actually funny.
A Bad Moms Christmas, however, is essentially two hours of genitalia jokes and men sexually objectified (to clarify, it’s wrong to objectify women as well) to Fifty Shades of Grey levels. At the same time, all of these rules can be broken if the scenes actually provide laughter, but they don’t. Watching a male gigolo get his pubic hair waxed while Carla (Kathryn Hahn) is dazzled by the size of his dick is not shockingly humorous or clever, it’s trash. He says he’s tired of the opposite sex loving him and using him solely for his chiseled body and handsome appearance, yet that’s all Carla views him as and the two get along fine. That’s not even the most embarrassingly awful sequence with this young stud, as that honor goes to Carla’s mom Isis played by Susan Sarandon gyrating all over his Santa Claus costume as he does a striptease. It gets worse, at one point she buries his face between her bosom.
Even some of the very few tame attempts at comedy such as a three-on-three dodgeball fight between the moms and grandmothers come across as wholly cringe-worthy. Chalk it up to atrocious dialogue and an overwhelming mainstream hip-hop soundtrack full of aggressively annoying songs. When that isn’t happening, the movie is desperately seeking to sneak in some substance, like terribly justifying Amy’s mom Ruth (Christine Baranski as a rich, controlling, snobby, perfectionist mother insistent on piercing together an extravagant holiday celebration) as a person with her heart in the right place when everything the film has shown us thus far says the contrary. It’s also worth pointing out that Ruth is a racist that constantly has no idea who Amy’s Hispanic ex-boyfriend is, and it’s painful to sit through. The dialogue is so unbelievable it may as well be from a cartoon.
I only laughed twice during A Bad Moms Christmas. The first time is not so much a particular scene but the overall performance of Ruth’s whipped but cheerily smiling husband Hank (Peter Gallagher); all he does is stand around in the background nodding his head in approval at anything and everything his wife demands and dictates, pulling it off with calculated facial expressions. There’s also a segment where Kristen Bell’s Kiki and her mom Sandy (Cheryl Hines) attend a group therapy session conducted by the always hilarious Wanda Sykes, who has some great lines. She was also the funniest part of the failed Amy Schumer comedy Snatched back around Mother’s Day, so I’m slowly beginning to think that she’s being brought in as a relief from the general torture of truly terrible comedies.
In all seriousness, mothers do have a nightmarish yearly stress making the holidays perfect for their families; I see it firsthand every year and am grateful to my own mom for that. A Bad Moms Christmas, much like its predecessor, has an admirable idea of paying tribute to all these unsung female heroines, it’s too bad the filmmakers are only concerned with vagina and dick jokes instead of celebrating amazing moms. Vulgar and crass content is fine as no one wants to see fake wholesome families impossible to relate to, but that’s all that’s here, and it’s not even funny.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com