Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) is always running late. She works at a hipster coffee company. A hipster coffee company with employees that don’t respect her and don’t work as hard as her. She has two children and a child husband. A child husband who cheats on her online with another woman. When Amy gets fed up with the infuriating mundaity of suburban motherhood, she…does things. Most of them involve parental irresponsibility and middle-fingering the dictatorial PTA president (Christina Applegate). Oh, and plenty of slow motion montages.
Given the premise of this film, I have no real reason to touch this film with a 10-foot pole. (I am not a middle-aged mother of two, if anyone was wondering). This said, let me try to stick with the formal elements.
From an acting perspective, Kunis is overshadowed by her on-screen cohorts, played by Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell. Hahn and Bell, whose foil characters play off of each other well, provide much more well-timed humor than our protagonist. Even though the script goes overboard on Hahn’s character’s crass persona, she makes it work better than most could. Additionally, the young actress playing Kunis’ daughter also has a worthwhile, albeit short on screentime, performance.
The camera work only really gets flashy during montages (a standard trend in comedies these days). These montages are never as riotously funny as they set out to be, usually setting up big sight gags or party scenarios that don’t move toward any comedic end. The lighting, too, gets strangely off-kilter and overexposed at times.
As is the norm of studio comedies nowadays, Bad Moms is a raunchy comedy with an undertone of sentimentality. The crude humor is used to hide the sentimental themes for the sake of drawing in the audience that flocked to films such as The Hangover (the directors here wrote that series of films) and Bridesmaids. In the end, the raunchy surface is washed away to get at the heart of the film: that moms love their children unconditionally but aren’t perfect.
This equation of crude-sentimentality is one that can succeed at making money but almost always fails at bringing game changing comedies. Bad Moms is certainly not a game changing comedy. But it has its moments: handfuls of humorous bits, quality acting performances. However, it struggles through its antagonists, who are caricatures of caricatures, and a narrative that is simple and predictable. All-in-all, it is a film that fails to maintain interest through a feature length runtime.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)