Bad Moms: a lowbrow, crowd-pleasing gender-reversed comedy that adheres to a tried-and-true formula and amounts to little more than dick jokes and drunken shenanigans. Replicate the first movie and you get Bad Moms 2, a silly comedy of errors that also taps into the festive market. There, that’s your context. So why is Bad Moms 2 as enjoyable as it is?
If you, as I must have, leave your pretensions at the door and experience the movie with an audience full of laughter… it becomes quite clear that you’re onto a winner. We’re dealing with a tawdry franchise here, and when it comes to this brand of film, this is one of the better ones.
Bad Moms 2, titled A Bad Moms Christmas in the US, picks up a year after the previous movie. The three mothers are back to the thankless realities of motherhood and, of course, they’re in desperate need to let their hair down… again. The story begins with the shamelessly uninspired trope of presenting the aftermath of a night gone wrong – you know, the same plot device used in The Hangover, Office Christmas Party and a gazillion other similar comedies – where a lead character taking the audience “back to where it all started” (yawn). In this case, of course, it’s also “how I ruined Christmas”.
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn return along with most of their supporting cast, and this time they hit the ground running. They assume their characters as though it were second nature (although, perhaps some aren’t stretching as far as others), and unlike the first instalment, the three leads have legitimate chemistry between them. Kunis makes for a much more believable mother figure this time round and Bell and Hahn have managed to finesse their characters into genuinely endearing figures.
The story sees them exhausted by the expectations put upon them at Christmas-time and, after a drunken shopping centre food-court rampage, they decide to reclaim the holiday and do away with the expensive festivities. All goes to crud when their respective mothers arrive unexpectedly (at the same time – go figure) and typical family dysfunctions ensue.
Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon join the cast as the three overwhelming mothers whose own issues commandeer the story and twist it into an enormously fun comedy of errors. Baranski plays the controlling, self-centred mother to Kunis, Hines is the obsessive and unbalanced mother to Bell, and Sarandon is the irresponsible drifter mum to Hahn. Together they comprise a calamity of contrived characters with absolutely no shred of originality. And yet, within the context of the movie, as well as their dynamic amongst the ensemble, they manage to create an entirely endearing and heart-warming melodrama that oozes cheese like a melted toastie and tugs at the heart strings like a malnourished puppy.
Baranski and Hahn are the clear standouts here, and they relish every morsel of their outrageous personas. Baranski has made a career out of being a queen bitch and she hams her performance up to the nigh for this hysterical turn. And in a role that is essentially a distorted reflection of Zach Galifianakis’ role in The Hangover, Hahn delivers more of her fabulous (classless) gold and provides the necessary juxtaposition to her level-headed friends. Hahn’s used very well, given the right amount of crassness to keep the film from toppling over into flagrant vulgarity.
They key word with Bad Moms 2 is “frivolity”, and this movie is packed with it. As a reviewer it would be all too easy for me to hide behind a furrowed brow and heap on a lashing of negative criticism. Okay, so it might be puerile and perhaps it’s shamelessly subscribing to a hokey and exploitative formula… but it’s a cheeky Christmas movie and I’ll be damned if it’s not a lot of fun. At the end of the day, when a movie hits its target audience and delivers exactly what they expect/want, who am I to argue?
SCREEN REALM SCORE: ★★★☆☆