I dragged myself with mild trepidation and anticipated ennui to “Bad Moms,” the latest in a string of movies featuring the word “Bad” in the title. The title displeaseth me—so generic—like, say, the Shop Rite brand of waffle mix as opposed to Aunt Jemima. Jemima clearly being the superior product.
Never judge a movie by its title. “Bad Moms” is laugh-till-you-cry hilarious. I can’t remember the last time a movie had this much funny going on.
Actually, I can remember—it was the last time Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell were in the same movie together: “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” “Bad Moms” is funnier. It’ll be a big hit with moms all across the nation.
What Goes On
Kunis plays Amy, a mom who’s always running late: late getting the kids to school, late getting to her job at the café, late getting to PTA meetings, late getting to soccer practice, late getting dinner on the table, late making stuff for the bake sale, late constructing a giant paper maché bust of Richard M. Nixon for her son’s (whatever) school project (history probably). Moms of America—can you relate to late?
She’s got a whiny brat girl-child, an entitled boy-child, a third child who is her husband, and a dog-child. So four kids.
Rushing everywhere in the minivan, she always looks fabulous despite spilled coffees, bits of food, and stains that always end up smeared on moms like Pigpen from “Peanuts.”
She can do this (look fabulous) because she’s Mila Kunis, movie star. But you recognize immediately she’s telling the story of moms everywhere that desperately needed to be told. There will surely be much shouting of, “Tell it, Mila!” and, “You go girl!!” And as a man, I’m not making fun of this. One must root for Mila’s character, the “bad” mom, because she’s truly a good mom. She tries so hard.
But things come to a head. How much Sisyphean lateness due to superhuman multitasking can one woman take?
Especially when badgered to distraction by … the antagonist, the head of the PTA—a “good” mom, played by Kelly Bundy, I mean, Christina Applegate. She plays Gwendolyn. Such a Nazi, this woman. She and her little band of mean moms. High school’s mean girls often grow up to be these kinds of mean moms.
Anyway, at some point, Amy’s had it with the pressure and the meanness, and decides to run for president of the PTA on the “Bad Mom” platform. Any backers? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? Crickets. Nobody wants a piece of it. All the moms are heavily in denial.
Luckily, some wisdom starts to happen in that Amy gets some girlfriends. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child; women used to band together as gatherers, men as hunters. The American nuclear family concept was completely batso from the start, as was putting grandparents into old-folks homes so they can’t help out with kids like they’re meant to. All of this accounts for chronic lateness in moms, but more of this sociology lecture later.
Amy’s newly found mom friends are Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn in a career-escalating role of immense brazen hussy hilarity that should scoot her from perennial character actress to, if not exactly movie-star, then much better known).
They go on a Bad Mom rampage—one of the funniest montages in the film. Descending upon the local supermarket, they outrageously claim their inner bad moms together; they shower in upended, opened boxes of Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms with their mouths wide open, they chug chocolate milk, they indulge in general bacchanalian disgustingness—pause to coo over a baby in a stroller—and set the macho store security guard running for his life. It’s quite possible you will find yourself hooting at these shenanigans.
Cat’s Out of the Bag
Like Thelma’s awakening to her inner (and talented) stick-up artist in “Thelma & Louise,” there’s no going back. To top off this trend, Amy whips the dust cover off her (now separated) hubby’s true darling, a gleaming cherry-red ’69 Dodge Challenger with chromed Cragar mag rims and low-rumble exhaust; she starts burning rubber, chirping tires, and screeching up sideways at the school curb, with the (now grinning) kids in tow.
And so, somewhere around here is when she goes from “bad” mom to cool mom. The movement begins to spread and the race for the PTA is on!
Alright, That’s Enough Synopsis
Now owning her laid-back attitude and confidence (just a little more synopsis) she tells her son to learn to cook his own food, grow up, and stop feeling entitled—otherwise, she tells him, he’s going to grow up to be a shallow schmuck. She doesn’t want him growing a moustache later in life, pretending he’s got some inner interesting-ness going on, when he doesn’t.
As mentioned, Hahn is hilarious. It’s a Melissa McCarthy-type role, and SNL alums Anna Gasteyer and Molly Shannon could also slam-dunk it, but this is a prime example of being in the right role at the right time. Kristen Bell’s great too, and so is David Walton as Amy’s fretting, man-child husband.
However, Kunis owns this whole movie. Watch her imbue every tiny smidgen of time truthfully, be effortlessly funny, look fab, and teach the world’s women. She gives a great bad mom stump speech too.
Ultimately it’s a collective cast chemistry thing. You can tell early on the directors had loads of fun, tapped into the group’s rhythm and timing, and the comedy started cooking.
More Sociology Lecture
“Bad Moms” points out the (largely American) societal need for women to go do a women’s-work weekend, where women rediscover universal sisterhood, and stop pressuring and judging each other about how they raise their kids. Because, as is often mentioned in “Bad Moms,” who can raise kids properly nowadays? It’s impossible.
And men need to do a men’s-work weekend where men learn to balance their warrior/lover/magician/king quadrants and learn how to not be the worthless wretches women often (and rightfully) see them as. Because the men of “Bad Moms” are Bad Dads and Bad Husbands! When Yin and Yang are fully polarized and balanced again, we’ll finally get some peace and quiet around here. And kids who behave. Do it. Do it now. It takes a village!
Okay, that’s enough of that. Like I said, call the movie “Cool Moms.” And since this is really Kunis’s show, maybe just “Cool Mom.” Actually, since there’s a credit-roll segment with all these mom/actresses chatting with their real life moms—just call it “Moms.”
Directors: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie Mumolo, Oona Laurence, Jay Hernandez
Running Time: 1 hours, 41 minutes
Release Date: July 29
Rated 3.5 stars out of 5