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A Bad Moms Christmas – Movie Review

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A Bad Moms Christmas – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

Bad Moms was mildly amusing in its depiction of mothers shunning society’s perceptions of them and going to town. A Bad Moms Christmas attempts to repeat that formula and even similar story beats, but the gag might have run old at this point. The cast give the film their all, but it mostly has the Christmas gimmick to run with in this fast tracked sequel. Some laughs exist, but directors/writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore don’t do much to expand on the characters and take them to new places. Even the entrance of their mothers brings familiar territory to the table.

Of the cast, Kathryn Hahn ends up being the funniest. Even as her storyline with a male stripper goes for the obvious genitalia jokes, she digs into the role with relish and slightly elevates even mediocre lines with her delivery. Meanwhile, Mila Kunis is again assigned the straight woman role as she puts up with her perfectionist mother. This arc goes the obvious routes and the filmmakers jump through hoops to make Christine Baranski’s matriarch sympathetic. It doesn’t work as Kunis is clearly in the right and the script even opts for the annoying “ungrateful children” cliché with her offspring. The final message of A Bad Moms Christmas ultimately ends up being rather material.

Kristen Bell is mostly left on the sidelines as Hahn and Kunis’s stories take up a bulk of the screen time. Bell does play innocence remarkably well and the decision to cast Cheryl Hines as her mother is rather brilliant. There just isn’t that much exploration of their characters beyond “look how kooky they are.” Wanda Sykes does get a chance to deliver a humourous monologue about mothers and daughters. Susan Sarandon mainly plays the irresponsible mother to Hahn and they are a solid pair-up, but some scenes of development feel missing. Peter Gallagher is clearly enjoying playing Kunis’s chipper father.

A Bad Moms Christmas goes for fairly obvious and expected jokes most of the time. Some do generate chuckles, but the screenplay never goes beyond typical sitcom fodder. The attempts at schmaltz ring hollow as the film tries desperately hard to be both a raunchy comedy and a heartwarming Christmas tale. The story is clichéd with the beats feeling like the filmmakers are making a list of things they need to do and checking it twice. To expect something groundbreaking out of A Bad Moms Christmas isn’t being fair to the directors, but a bit more originality wouldn’t have hurt.

A Bad Moms Christmas will satisfy those who loved the antics of the first film, but it’s otherwise a forgettable follow-up that does nothing to expand the characters. Setting it during the Christmas season could have added some spice to the formula, but the holiday make-over makes little difference. We even get more of the annoying slow-motion musical montages that frequently bogged down its predecessor. One can’t fault the actors, who are obviously trying their best. However, once Christmas Day actually does arrive late next month, A Bad Moms Christmas will already have been forgotten and will join many other Christmas films on the W Network rotation.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison