*Warning: Potential Spoilers*
Coming from the writers of The Hangover (2009), you think you know what you’re getting with a movie entitled Bad Moms – raunchy language, stupid sex jokes, and maybe, just maybe, some semblance of a powerful and deeply impactful lesson at the end of it all. And you know what? You get all of that, but somehow, you can’t help but wonder if maybe less constant swearing and dirty jokes would have helped, because the message behind the movie is somehow sweet, deep and something somehow perfect without trying to appeal so greatly to the mothers in the audience. And that’s the audience for this film, don’t be mistaken- daughters might love it, boys might enjoy the dirty jokes and swearing, but the story itself is for mothers and it’s a sweeter story than its title might suggest.
Amy (Mila Kunis) has the seemingly perfect life – two great kids, a good marriage, a beautiful home and a great position in her career. The price? She’s exhausted – in order to get her kids to school on time and feed them and run them around she is late to work and late to PTA meetings where she constantly feels like her parenting skills are not up to parr. So, after discovering that her husband has been having an affair and her boss making overwhelming demands, she and her two new mom friends Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) ditch their responsibilities for some long over-due self-indulgence. This attracts the attention of “perfect PTA mom” (even though we never once see her kids) Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) who makes it her mission to punish the “fun” moms. (Annie Mumolo and Jada Pinkett Smith are also listed as main actresses, but they’re really just the cronies of Applegate and matter very little in terms of story).
The funniest thing about this movie is that what is supposed to be the comedy aspect of it – again with the swearing and the dirty jokes even when these moms are surrounded by their impressionable children – is not the funny part. If anything, the swearing throws you off a bit, especially when the supposedly ‘perfect’ moms do it. Sure, that’s the point of the movie and you’re not supposed to like these moms, but still…that part just feels out of place in this movie at times, not because hearing moms swear isn’t funny in a weird “oh my god did my mom just swear” kind of way, but because the really funny parts are the ones that feel real. When Kunis gets to the PTA meeting after the worst possible day and starts hearing about all the things you shouldn’t give your children in their lunches and how everyone has to be the best parent by volunteering and she just snaps, it’s real, and every that happens after is funny because it’s true to how people feel. Of course the grocery scene is over the top and ridiculous (like how were none of those women arrested) but it all balances out in the end, especially thanks to Kathryn Hahn’s wildly inappropriate Carla, the divorced, barely-competant mom who is surprisingly not only fun, but impressive.
Other than the swearing, there are a few other things that are a little off about this movie. Kristen Bell’s character Kiki, for example, may have the most interesting story of the movie but you wouldn’t know it because they gloss over it like one big joke. Her husband is the kinda guy who walks up to his wife out at lunch with friends and asks why she’s not home with their four kids, because “isn’t it your job?” Kiki spends most of the movie repressed, naive and completely under this guy’s thumb, only happy when she’s out with Carla and Amy, but then when she tells her husband off at last it doesn’t feel like she’s earned it. We don’t know enough about her to cheer, but we also know enough that this dynamic is as interesting as it is unhealthy and definitely worse than Amy’s two good kids and crazy hours, though that’s what the movie is about. Not to mention that none of Kiki’s kids seem old enough to be in school at all, let alone at the same school as Amy’s 12-year-old daughter and Carla’s soon-to-graduate son.
There are a few interesting dynamics in Bad Moms that are enjoyable though- for one thing, there are only two guys throughout the film (not including extras and kids) and the love interest part of the tale is so minimal they could have probably just cut the whole thing. Amy and her husband are having problems, which is a moment in and of itself, and she falls for the hot single dad at school, but he has maybe five scenes and almost no backstory. It’s like the opposite of dropping Anne Hathaway into a movie- instead of needing a pretty girl, these moms needed a pretty boy, and there are no other requirements of him. The plot doesn’t even end up needing him, really, since the main conflict could easily be resolved without his storyline present. Another point that isn’t really emphasized (but maybe just as interesting) is how young Kunis looks as a mom in comparison to the other moms. Sure, she is a mom in real life, and sure she talks about how she had her kids at a really young age, but there is a certain head-tilting comparison, especially when she’s next to Applegate and Hahn. Is that part of why she feels like an incompetent mom, is it why being a so-called “good mom” is hard for her? Like I said, it’s a minor detail in the actual plot of the film, but one that you definitely are free to think about on your own, and one that adds another layer to a movie you didn’t think would have layers at all.
All in all, this movie is a nice summer fling – it’s fun, it’s easy to watch, and you even feel a little teary at points where you just want to call your own mother and say thank you.
Stick around for the credits. They are beautiful and packed with plenty of ‘awwwwwwww’s.