Review – Bad Moms (2016)

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by Kevin Muller

As the time passes in Hollywood, women are gaining more and more power within the industry.   This year, an all female “Ghostbusters” hit the cinemas with a mixed word of mouth and an underwhelming box office draw.    Next year, we are getting an all female reboot of “Ocean’s 11.”     Thankfully, “Bad Moms” is an original idea that is both insightful, well acted, and, at parts, hilarious.

One wouldn’t be wrong in spotting the odd casting of Mila Kunis who is relatively young to be playing a mother with two teenage kids.   Kunis, who turned 33 this year, has been the acting since she was an adolescent.   Her character of Amy became pregnant then married all before her 21st birthday.     Mike, played by David Walton, isn’t any help at all and has a dirty secret that ultimately splits them apart.   This is all on top of the constant pressures that come with being the perfect mom.   In the community of the story, it is PTA Mom-zilla Gwendolyn, played with spice by Christina Applegate, who makes both Amy and all the other mothers’ lives a living hell.   According to her way of thinking, a child can never be too busy or scheduled.   

Even though the movie is raunchy and over the top, mostly thanks to the single sex starved antics of mother Carla, played by Kathryn Han, it also takes a good look at the obstacles, both timeless and generational, of being a mother.    Kristen Bell, ever so cute and hilarious, plays Kiki, a mother of who has to do everything and is just basically so good willed but absent minded.   Bell plays up Kiki’s naïve nature so well, making her a lovable ditz who truly does love and want the best for her children.

Amy gets burnt out on this desire and just decides to stop it trying to be this perfect mother in control of everything.   We have seen this plot many times before of a suffocated parent letting go and adopting a young and care free attitude.    That was the whole basis of the 1999 Best Picture “American Beauty.”   This movie doesn’t go that deep and Amy doesn’t try to get it on with one of her children’s friends, but she does leave her husband and develop a relationship with another single parent named Jessie.  Jay Hernandez, who was so wasted in that forgettable “Suicide Squad” movie, is actually pretty good here with a role that could’ve been a big throw away.   He is the attractive father of a daughter that attends the same school as Amy’s children.    Hernandez gives more to the role and makes Jessie a sweet and seemingly great dad to his child.   Kunis and him have absolutely perfect chemistry that sell the softer part of the movie quiet well.

The screenplay by Jon Lucas and Scott More, who did “The Hangover” movies, is rapid fire with the jokes.   While the three leads do drama quite well, they also are all fantastic with the comedy.    This is where Hahn takes the lead though.  She is definitely the standout selling point for the vulgarity of the movie.   She is a single mother who just doesn’t give a damn.   Expect to see more of Hahn in the future after this movie.

Through the course of the events and confrontation with Gwen, these women learn something about themselves and the way of nature.    A pivotal scene at the end we see how the rebellious attitude has benefits everything around these characters’ lives.  Yes, some of their antics do cause trouble but there are tiny ripple effects to show that not being perfect and following everything isn’t the end of the world.

“Bad Moms” is a great surprise considering it is a funny but truthful movie about the ups and downs of being a mother.   It never feels too stupid or preachy.

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