I know I’m supposed to be writing all about procrastinating, but after a long period of not bothering to watch movies as soon as they come out, I realised how much I have to say about all the movies and TV shows that I watch. Although me dreaming of being an actress seems like forever ago now, the passion is still there. So I decided that I will also dedicate a section of my masterpiece in progress strictly for film and TV reviews, and other things of that nature.
So, A Bad Moms Christmas. Okay it really does pain me to type the next few words considering the amazing cast, but I was pretty disappointed by this movie. I know, I know, but it’s true. It just wasn’t as funny as I had anticipated. However I’m almost not even really sure why, because it’s one of those films that have all the appropriate tools to make a great comedy but it just doesn’t quite come together.
A Bad Moms Christmas is a sequel to the movie Bad Moms, which was released in July last year. The main character of the movie is Amy Mitchell, played by Mila Kunis. Amy is feeling pretty fed up with her stressful life of being a mum of two children with about 50 million daily tasks to take care of. She’s not a single mother but she might as well be as her husband literally does absolutely nothing to help, which is worse than being alone really. Amy also has a part time job to balance, not to mention her boss is as lazy as her husband but as demanding as her children. She ends up leaving this same shitbag of a husband due to the fact that he cheated on her, so then Amy really is all alone. She gets to a point where she is sick to death of it all, which is when she runs into two other mums whose kids go to the same school: Kiki, played by Kristen Bell and Carla, played by Kathryn Hahn. Kiki is kind of timid and another mother who tries desperately hard to be perfect. Carla is a lot more relaxed, very sexual, loud and hilarious AF. So me basically, LOL. All three women discuss the most irksome segments of their crazy lives and suddenly all decide that they are done spending every single moment of their time trying to be the perfect mother. Amy quits her job and takes more time to do the things that she wants to do. She also stops spending every waking moment of her life doing her kids’ homework and making them breakfast (yes, she was making them breakfast despite the fact that they look like they’ve been old enough to make their own food for a little while now). I haven’t even got to the main point of the film yet, but I think it’s safest if I just stop there. As I’m sure you know by now, I tend to ramble and this is a review about Part Two of this movie so I didn’t want to get into deep. I just wanted to give you an outline of the three main protagonists so if you would like to know what happens next…watch the movie. Although I’m assuming if you are reading this then you would have at least watched the first one.
So, A Bad Moms Christmas. The premise is a little similar to the first film: it highlights all the work and the amount of effort that mums put in to make Christmas perfect. There is definitely truth in this statement. I have watched my mum go through so much to make Christmas a delicious and very special occasion, and we don’t even do Christmas half as big as most households do. One of my best friends is a mum and she literally boycotts Christmas now and insists it is just an ordinary day to her, due to the amount of work that she put into previous years which went unappreciated. This is pretty much what Amy, Kiki and Carla decide to do but with a different spin on it. They decide to do fun things during Christmastime, activities which both they and their children can enjoy together. This epiphany cues the entrance of the mothers of all three women: Amy’s mother Ruth, who is played by Christine Baranski, Kiki’s mother Sandy, who is played by Cheryl Hines and Carla’s mother Isis, played by Susan Sarandon.
Even as I write this line-up I am thinking to myself, “how could this movie possibly not have measured up”? It’s crazy, right? All these names together practically promise you 90 minutes worth of entertainment. Well indeed they did. I was definitely entertained, and although I didn’t find it that funny, I definitely would not go as far as to say that it wasn’t a good movie. On the contrary, I thought it was a great movie. However I do also think that it was lacking as a comedy. All actors portrayed their characters very well so I would have to say the issue lay in the script. Whilst it was pretty clear that a lot of ideas that were contributed to the plot of the movie were from women (most likely the actors themselves), it was also abundantly clear that the script itself was written by men. I think this is one of the reasons why the comedy doesn’t quite transcend. For example, the part in the movie where they decide to “take back Christmas” and then get absolutely off their face, run amok through the shopping mall and terrorise pour Santa. I’m sorry, but what? When was the last time a women mentioned to you, “If I could do anything right now, it would be to get absolutely shit-faced in the mall and go and twerk on Santa.” Well actually we are always up for the getting shitfaced part. But no, I’m good with the Santa thing. I do not want to be on that particular Naughty List. I know that this part of the movie was just a nostalgic reminder of the scene where the same ladies run amok in their local supermarket, behaving in a very similar fashion. But the original scene was actually funny, plus it did look like something that mums secretly would like to do in the supermarket. They spend a good 30-40% of their life in there, who wouldn’t want to go crazy at times?
So as soon as these ladies mothers arrive, it pretty much indicates that what they had envisioned for their Christmas 2.0. is not about to go to plan. Amy’s mother Ruth is my favourite mum. Christine Baranski plays Leonard’s mum in the TV show The Big Bang Theory, and for anyone that does watch this show, she is just as cold to Amy as she is to Leonard. This is why I had to love her, she is so reminiscent of this character except that you do see a glimmer of a soul deep within her. Ruth decides to take over Amy’s house for Christmas and decorates it with everything Amy does not want, including a huge display of ornaments to perform “The 12 Days of Christmas” jamboree style, complete with a partridge in a pear tree. She tries to drag them all to the original five hour production of The Nutcracker, but thankfully Amy detours at the last minute and brings them to the trampoline park to meet Carla, Kiki and their children. Ruth also throws a huge Christmas party in Amy’s house with Kenny G performing, despite the fact that Amy could not make it any clearer that she did not want one of these fancy parties, and especially not with Kenny G.
On the other hand, Kiki’s mum Sandy is the complete opposite of cold. Kiki’s father passed away a little while ago, and since then her mother seems to have developed a habit of being an overbearing, way too full-on mother. She arrives three days earlier than expected, and tells her she will be staying for three weeks. By the way, she is also delivering this news whilst wearing a jumper with Kiki’s face on it. I’m pretty sure she dons a pair of pyjamas later on in the film with little pictures of Kiki’s face all over it as well. Now, I love my mother dearly, I really do. But if I ever see her wearing clothes with my face all over it, we are going to have to have a serious talk. This is nothing though; Sandy also decides to sit quietly in Kiki and her husband Kent’s bedroom and almost watch them have sex and when Kiki takes her to therapy to work out these issues, her mother almost goes through with lying about having a fake cancer just to keep Kiki close to her. If all this weren’t enough, halfway through the movie Sandy announces that she has bought the house next door to them. Now again, I love my mother but really!? Buying the house next door to me when I’m married and have my own children? That is just crazy on so many levels.
Carla’s mother Isis is essentially an older and much more immature version of Carla. She is most definitely as brash, blunt, funny and as sexually active as her daughter. However Isis isn’t really someone that Carla has been able to depend on, and seems to just waltz back into her life when she needs to “borrow” money, and waltz back out again. Carla is obviously used to this behaviour but this doesn’t make it any less hurtful. The character of Isis is actually one of the disappointing factors of this film for me. Firstly, Susan Sarandon had much more to bring to the character than was displayed, in my opinion. I have a feeling that she probably was featured in the film a lot more originally, but ended up being cut out for whatever reason. Whilst her character was undoubtedly funny, it seemed as if she was a mere shadow of Carla rather than the full blown, more radical version of her which I believe Isis was meant to be.
This brings me to the comedic value of the movie overall: honestly I was not that impressed. It’s a shame, because I love all the actors that play the main characters in this film. I have absolutely no qualms on their acting skills in other movies, especially in comedies. However it just did not come together for me in A Bad Moms Christmas. There were definitely parts of the film that I found funny. For example, the running joke where Amy’s mother never gets her boyfriend Jesse’s name right. The first time she meets him, she refers to him as “Jesus” and orders him to collect their bags from the car, assuming that the unknown Mexican gentleman must of course be the help. Or Sandy’s unhealthy obsession with Kiki, especially the therapy scene, which I found hilarious. However most of the time it felt as if the attempts to make the audience laugh were very forced and desperate. For example, the part where Carla meets a sexy male stripper at the spa she works at and she ends up having to give him a “boy”zilian wax. This is one of those scenes that I really wanted to find funny, but I just couldn’t. To be honest, every scene with him and Carla just felt like a slightly painful attempt to make us laugh which didn’t really work out. To be honest, the same can be said for a large portion of the film. It almost works, but it just wasn’t quite there.
I don’t know if maybe I’m just hard to please, because there were other people in the cinema laughing at the same parts I am describing. But I know a good comedy when I see one, and as much as it pains me to say it, A Bad Moms Christmas was not it. Like I said I don’t think the actors are to blame; I think they did the best job they could with what they were given. In my opinion, the screenwriters and the creative directors are the ones that fell short. A Bad Moms Christmas is one of those movies that you get so excited about when you see the line up. I was particularly excited to see the first one because you so rarely see an all-female cast in a film, especially with big names like Mila Kunis and Christina Applegate. So I was so happy that it did well enough for a sequel to be released with even more female roles.
It seems to me that the biggest fault was not to have more female influences behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera, particularly mothers. I bet you anything I could find a small group of women right now who could write a funnier comedy about being a mother at Christmastime. None of these women have any experience in the film industry by the way. It’s simply because they are all mothers, and I have laughed my head off to stories they share with me about their children, without them even trying to be funny. Let’s be real: most men don’t have a clue about the plight of a mother at Christmastime because they usually have their feet up on the sofa and are completely oblivious to the work their other half is doing around them. However I studied enough in my Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies course at university to know that this is a much bigger issue. Unfortunately the majority of roles behind the scenes in this industry are filled by men. Until there is a change in this regard, there will undoubtedly be a shortage in the amount of films played by an all-female cast, not to mention that this makes it more likely that the quality of the few films that do include an all-female cast, will suffer.