The trio of bad moms return to the silver screen, this time to bring in the holidays in ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’. Under-appreciated and overburdened moms Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for Moms: Christmas morning. As if creating the perfect holiday for their families isn’t hard enough, they’ll have to do it while hosting and entertaining their own respective mothers (Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon) when they come to visit. Fill the glasses, enjoy a night out on the town, and put the kids to bed. These mothers are on the prowl of mayhem to their community. ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ is written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, and is rated R for crude sexual content, adult language throughout, and some drug use.
When will they ever learn? Traditionally, comedy sequels are often so underwhelming because they take what made the original effort so enticing, and run it into the ground in repetition so heavily that it takes down two movies into the pits of hell for the price of one. ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ continues this tradition, doubling down on notable cast members and slicing in half the effective comedy that made it a standout hit for the 2016 movie season. The hardcore fans of the original will still flock to this sequel, but I think even they will admit that this film misses severely on the magical impulse and social satire that Mothers everywhere screamed out loud in unison to with a much better original effort. As is the case for that first movie, this is what I like to call ‘Mom porn’. That meaning doesn’t point to what you imagine from its sound, but instead the desperation that reeks in this film’s material in the same way that action films are ‘Male porn’. This one has near-naked buff Santa dancing on a bar, fantasy montage sequences that do nothing but halt the progression of the story, and enough raunchy humor to make even a marine blush. As far as comedy sequels go, it’s not detestable, but it is another in the growing list of mistimed second chapters that does a brutal disservice to its original mayhem.
The story, if you can call it that, revolves around Christmas of course, with the mothers of mothers coming into town to spice things up around the holiday. That’s it, that is everything that this film’s hollow material offers in spades. The kind of plot where you could fall asleep for a half hour during the movie, wake up, and realize you missed absolutely nothing and have managed to stay on board for the continuity of what is going on. If it isn’t a bit of a stretch that all three of these women are in town simultaneously from their out of state locations, then the idea that their grandchildren are all now well behaved angels is one that I found to be a bit unbelievable. To a certain degree, I commend this film for not taking the easy way out like most comedy sequels do, and rehash old material and jokes that are reheated for a second helping. Because of that, ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ does succeed in standing on its own two feet, creating a chapter for the series that doesn’t require us to delve into the previous installment, but one that overall could’ve provided
This film can often feel like about twenty minutes of solid material that is stretched to rubber-like levels because of its sneaky tricks that fool us into thinking it has an ounce of depth to its script. I mentioned the musical montage sequences earlier for a reason. There are three of them in this film, and while it worked in the first movie because this trio were lashing out against their miniature counterparts, in this sequel it just brings out the worst in these three awful people who have nothing better to do than destroy a mall full of innocent people who did nothing to spite them. On a side note, do they really serve beer at a mall? If so, please comment below which mall because it would make shopping around the holidays ten times easier. Besides this, there’s nothing original to the structure that we’ve seen in family holiday films a million times. Yes, you know there will be awkwardness because of the intrusion. Yes, you know there will be a fight because the growing pressures are too much for our protagonist. Yes, you know in the end they will reunite in the spirit of Christmas. And yes, I managed to tell you everything that you need to know without giving away actually anything that you didn’t expect after being fed this same approach over and over again in modern day redundancy.
Despite me not being the target audience for this picture, the film did deliver on a few hearty chuckles that gave me moments of its original fluidity. I don’t pertain this to clever writing, but instead the timing of some elite female comic actresses who know how to push the boundaries successfully with each R-rated set-up. On the overall spectrum, the film’s humor muscle does tend to overreach on more than a few occasions, delving in on the same punchline with the kind of repetition that grants us cinematic deja vu. The unfortunate aspect is that a lot of this humor shouldn’t require an R-rating, but does so because it feels like it is necessary to take advantage of its adult screenplay. There isn’t a problem with removing the adult language from the surface and still receiving the same kind of reaction from us the audience, mainly because the material itself isn’t as clever or provocative as it tries so desperately to be. To me, this film is most comfortable when it is depicting therapeutic satire for all of the mothers watching in the audience. Unfortunately, those instances don’t come as frequently in this second effort, and I would be greatly concerned if anyone watching can relate to these characters with unabashed earnestness.
My feedback on this ensemble of six respective actresses is half and half. For the most part, I despised most of their characters, mainly because the film reaches for some transformations in the predictable third act that it never feels like it rightfully earns. In particular, Christine Baranski’s Ruth is an insufferable bitch to the most extreme degree. That same outline seems stuck to a majority of our cast because none of them ever feel like actual people, and rather trait outlines that don’t make up a human being. The one thing we remember about Cheryl Hines Sandy is that she’s clingy and obsessed with her daughter. Now tell me one other thing that you learned about her in this movie. I’ll wait. The trait outlines are great for about five minutes, then I demand that the movie force us to learn a little more about these women, but it never does. The inclusion of these three noteworthy actresses add nothing of substance to a franchise that was already lacking it. As for the original three of Kunis, Bell, and Hahn, they’re still a charismatic parade when they’re together, but they don’t seem to hold up in entertaining nature while separated. Hahn is still definitely my favorite of the three, but her stick has reached its limit when we waste two valuable minutes of screen time on a joke about waxing vaginas and balls. On the latter, do guys actually ask for that? OUCH!!!
THE VERDICT – Two films in this series, and not one of them have occurred on Mother’s Day, what logic. If ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ shows up in your stocking this holiday season, it’s likely that you’ve been a bad person over the previous year. The few random sparks of laughter will give you flashes of the original lightning in a bottle, but soon the confine shackles of repetition and constant halting of progression will have you reaching for the spiked egg nog. During the season of giving, directors Lucas and Moore present us with a lazy, noisy, uninspiring, and unnecessary second helping, and it’s the gift that keeps on giving all the way to the bathroom where this toilet humor belongs.