‘Bad Moms’ Features More Bad Filmmaking Than Bad Behavior

GameStop, Inc.

bad-moms-0001

I hate the term “chick flick.” It’s a reductive term that exists only to lower expectations. “You weren’t going to like it, it’s a chick flick,” is an oft-heard reply when I levy criticisms against a movie that is geared for female audiences. To me, if a movie doesn’t achieve what it aims, it’s a bad movie. My judgement as a critic isn’t based solely upon the gender of whom the movie is aimed at, but how a movie achieves its goals. One way the soft sexism of low expectations have been undermined is through raunchy comedies geared for women. Bridesmaids broke the glass ceiling of raunchy comedy and paved the way for women to be just as crude as men in comedic fare. The latest R-rated comedy headlined by women is Bad Moms, which is written and directed by the duo of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, most famous for writing The Hangover. With laughs few and far between, Bad Moms merely proves that women can headline ineffectual comedies just as well as men.

In the opening voiceover, Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) informs the audience that she got pregnant at 20 and has been “late ever since.” She scrambles between getting her two kids ready for school, working, and tending to the house as her layabout husband Mike (David Walton) does as little as possible. At her children’s school, the PTA is run by Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), who is a controlling micromanager of all school-related activities. Shortly after discovering her husband has been carrying out an online relationship with a camgirl, Amy decides that the life of never-ending stress isn’t worth it anymore, and makes a public declaration at a PTA meeting. At a local bar, Amy meets Carla (Kathryn Hahn), a single mother with a hard-drinking personality and a voracious sexual appetite, and is soon met by Kiki (Kristen Bell), a stay-at-home mom overworked by her domineering husband. The trio soon forms an alliance of imperfect mothers willing to whatever the hell they want, much to the chagrin of Gwendolyn and her lackeys Stacey (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Vicky (Annie Mumolo). When Amy decides to run for PTA president, it sparks a contentious rivalry between Gwendolyn and her loyal followers and Amy with her crew of bad moms.

The lone shining star of Bad Moms is Kathryn Hahn, who once again gets to highlight her unique abilities to elevate underwhelming material, as she’s done in dreck like The Do-Over. Hahn provides the film with its lone source of edgy material and she sells each raunchy line delivery with comedic conviction. The biggest shame of the movie is the fact that Hahn isn’t the film’s main character, and the script by Lucas and Moore keep her character at a distance. It’s not until much later in the film that we’re even introduced to her meathead son, though that could be written off as part of her character’s interest in partying over parenting. The white trash member of the group, Carla is the only character of the three whose house we never see, and in a film where every character lives in posh upper-upper-upper middle class homes, it’s represents a wasted opportunity for the film to inject a bit of class humor in the story.

The main character of Bad Moms is Mila Kunis’ Amy, and she’s also the only character with anything resembling a story arc. The entirety of arc is simply that she needs to assert herself more, whether it’s with her no-goodnik husband (who in his own right is a baffling character, with all the sloven idiocy of Andy Dwyer from Parks and Rec but is somehow a mortgage broker) or with her millennial boss (played by Clark Duke) at a the hipster coffee company where she’s a part-time employee working full-time hours. That same lesson of being assertive is the sole character arc of Kristen Bell’s Kiki, who in the end stands up to her husband. Whereas Bell’s character is given the trait of being somewhat sheltered and naïve, there’s little in the way of characteristics for Kunis’ Amy, who is just a highly competent woman that is overworked professionally and as a parent.

What Bad Moms is going for is a take on the comedy tradition of snobs vs. slobs, with Kunis and her gang of bad moms vs. Applegate and her uptight PTA. Except there’s little to really give us much understanding as to why Applegate’s Gwendolyn is so domineering in everything that she does; it’s a real one-sided rivalry from the viewer’s perspective, one that has Gwendolyn as an unredeemable villain without ever giving us anything in the way of motivation. It’s not until the film’s conclusion that we learn why Gwendolyn is the way she is in an astoundingly tone deaf, contradictory manner. The film also fails to give any reason as to why Stacey or Vicky would suck up to the totalitarian Gwendolyn, and neither character has much to do though Mumolo’s Vicky is able to be the group’s ditz while Pinkett Smith’s Stacey has maybe five lines of dialogue.

What Bad Moms is going for is a take on the comedy tradition of snobs vs. slobs, with Kunis and her gang of bad moms vs. Applegate and her uptight PTA. Except there’s little to really give us much understanding as to why Applegate’s Gwendolyn is so domineering in everything that she does; it’s a real one-sided rivalry from the viewer’s perspective, one that has Gwendolyn as an unredeemable villain without ever giving us anything in the way of motivation. It’s not until the film’s conclusion that we learn why Gwendolyn is the way she is in an astoundingly tone deaf, contradictory manner. The film also fails to give any reason as to why Stacey or Vicky would suck up to the totalitarian Gwendolyn, and neither character has much to do though Mumolo’s Vicky is able to be the group’s ditz while Pinkett Smith’s Stacey has maybe five lines of dialogue.

Aside from the promiscuity and crudeness of Hahn’s Carla, there’s really not much that’s bad about these bad moms. The extent of bad behavior pretty much ranges from liberal use of F-bombs to indulging in alcoholic beverages. Simply, there’s little that seems outrageous about the behavior onscreen. I mean, there’s nothing bad about Amy seeking out a relationship with the school’s hot widower (Jay Hernandez) following the disintegration of her marriage nor is there anything particularly bad about catching a matinee and lunch with friends.

The worst human behavior on Bad Moms comes from behind the camera, as directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore are illiterate in visual language. From their perspective, people drinking and causing a ruckus is all the more hilarious if presented in slow motion. There’s probably more scenes in slow motion in Bad Moms than in The Matrix. Without a doubt, Bad Moms features the worst cinematography I’ve witnessed in a feature film all year. Every scene is garish and overlit, sometimes so egregiously so that bright backlighting overshadows the contours of the characters and settings of the frame. In all honesty, I’m left to wonder if cinematographer Jim Denault used the filming of Bad Moms as a chance for a paid vacation, leaving the job of shooting the actual movie to some unpaid, unexperienced intern.

The most shocking piece of bad parenting in Bad Moms comes in the end credits as the parents of cast member recount stories from raising their children. It’s an indictment on the tame nature of the film that the most jaw-dropping piece of parenting is an anecdote from Christina Applegate’s mother about taking her 9-year-old daughter to the Al Pacino film Cruising, which is about a detective going undercover in the gay S&M subculture to find a killer. Throughout its running time, Bad Moms takes place in a world that doesn’t resemble reality, where the PTA is practically the school’s administrative wing. The film does have a nice message about overworked mothers, but the subject matter does little to make the message more than a platitude at the film’s hackneyed conclusion. The big problem with Bad Moms is that it’s written and directed by two men, lacking a female voice on the creative level. Between Bad Moms and Mother’s Day, 2016 has been a pretty dreadful year for comedies about motherhood. It’s a shame. Our mothers deserve so much better, and so much funnier than this.

Bad Moms
  • Overall Score
1.5

Summary

Not even an incredibly spirited performance from Kathryn Hahn can save Bad Moms from its inept filmmaking and remarkably dull story that attempts to repurpose slobs vs. snobs for moms vs. the PTA.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

FanboyNation
Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Luke Dimyan Talks About Portraying Judas Iscariot in, ‘The Chosen’ – Interview

Luke Dimyan Talks About Portraying Judas Iscariot in, ‘The Chosen‘, with...

Brett Harvey Talks ‘Breaking Olympia: The Phil Heath Story’

International Award Winning Director and Writer, Brett Harvey takes us  into...

‘Wednesday’ Comes to Blu-ray on Tuesday from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

‘Wednesday‘ Comes to Blu-ray on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, from Warner...

Event News Event Reviews
It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice’ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the Arts – Review

It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice‘ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the...

‘MJ the Musical’ Chronicles the Life of the ‘King of Pop’ Running at Segerstrom – Review

‘MJ the Musical‘ is the Ultimate Stage Adaptation, Chronicling the life...

Aiden Sinclair and Michael Rangel Talks ’57 Ghosts’ Aboard the Queen Mary Séance

Aiden Sinclair and Apparitionist, Michael Rangel Discuss their new Theatrical Séance...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

Ultimate Women of Wrestling Comes to the Globe Theatre – Interview

Ultimate Women of Wrestling Comes to the Globe Theatre on Sunday,...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse, battle at the Infernal gate pt 2

Oh Bruh, you did NOT just quote "Predator"!

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Battle at the Infernal Gate pt 1

NO NATURAL PREDATORS!

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – SID SPEAKS!

"We Demons! Let's go CRUNK on this punk-ass world!"

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus
MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Roye Okupe Brings Authentic African Representation to HBO Max and Cartoon Network

Nigerian-American, Roye Okupe brings authentic African representation to HBO Max and...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...