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Bad Moms – Movie Review

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Bad Moms – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

A lot of comedies function primarily to provide laughs with the plot being secondary. That’s a decent goal for the genre, though most comedies today exist as excuses for actors to riff a million variations of specific lines. Bad Moms is a bit more tightly constructed and doesn’t feel like a bunch of ad-libs cobbled together in the editing room. The story is still on the flimsy side as it suddenly jumps from a tale of mothers taking a break from their responsibilities to a PTA election. Directing/writing duo Jon Lucas and Scott Moore do succeed in hiring some talented actresses to play the leads and that elevates the material.

Mila Kunis portrays the lead mother Amy, who serves as the straight woman of the group as the film surrounds her with wacky personalities to jump off of. While Kathryn Hahn’s party animal alcoholic Carla is the juicier role, it’s actually Kristen Bell who runs off with the funniest lines. As clean-cut stay-at-home mother Kiki, there’s humour to be found in her slowly letting loose. One of the more humourous scenes has Carla explaining the foreskin with Kiki as a model and her look of shock makes what could have been just a crass scene work. The other comedic force in Bad Moms is Christina Applegate as the vindictive president of the PTA, who she portrays in an almost dictator-like manner. She chews into the role and crafts a villain worth rooting against.

The less successful elements in Bad Moms come from the attempts at sentiment. The film tries to create some tearjerker scenes, but the emotional gut punch never hits and feels forced. The unusual decision to add documentary footage of the real actress’s mothers during the end credits is particularly jarring. Lucas and Moore also utilise too many slow-motion scenes when the mothers go truly crazy. A pop song playing over slow-motion footage may fit in a Zack Snyder film, but it ruins the comedic potential in a film that’s trying to be funny. A scene in a supermarket could have been uproarious if the filmmakers hadn’t elected to slow down the footage and play a trite pop song. The same holds true for a later party scene.

This is mostly a showcase for the funny lead actresses, so the male characters being written so dully is only a minor criticism. However, a romance that develops between Amy and a widower has no on-screen chemistry and leads nowhere, stopping abruptly. Amy’s ex-husband is also the typical slacker character, but a few laughs are gained from a lonely gym teacher. The school principal is also given one funny line, but is mostly in the background. As humourous as Bad Moms can be at times, it does have a rather sitcom feel. One almost wonders if this was initially envisioned as a television series.

It can be easy to find flaws in a film as scattershot as Bad Moms. The plot is paper thin with odd detours and these characters are hardly fleshed out in major ways. However, as a comedy, it does more than succeed at its simple goal of producing laughs. While some running jokes get old quickly, others work thanks to the chemistry exhibited by Kunis, Hahn and Bell. There’s also a lot less of a focus on letting the actors riff and ad-lib, a common trait in modern comedies. This is hardly great cinema and one can argue it stops short from being a good film, but Bad Moms is enough of a pleasant diversion, at least on the Netflix app rather than a big screen.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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