Written and directed by the comedic geniuses behind The Hangover (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore), the film Bad Moms narrates the tale of three mothers, Amy (Mila Kunis), Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kritsen Bell) who feel exhausted by their self-imposed pressure to conform to societal norms of the ideal ‘mother’.
On the brink of a nervous breakdown, they decide to rebel against this idealised stereotype of a 21st century mother as one who is heavily involved in her children’s life whilst fulfilling career ambitions and running a household. Forming an unlikely alliance, they confront the Parent Teacher Association’s president at their children’s school, the condescending perfectionist, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate). Chaos ensues onscreen, as one would expect from a film containing the adjective ‘bad’ in its title.
The humour in Bad Moms is far from original. However, it is rare to watch an almost-exclusively female cast indulge in The Hangover’s signature brand of raunchy humour. Almost all of the film’s caustic punchlines elicit a laugh-out loud response. In contrast to other comedies, the role of ‘eye candy’ in Bad Moms is adopted by a male character, Jessie (Jay Hernandez). As a result, the film’s female ensemble is left with more comedic opportunities. Kathryn Hahn, through the role of Carla, takes the most advantage of these opportunities, producing a unique, R-rated slapstick routine. Kunis’s attempt at physical comedy is also impressive. It is highly amusing to watch a stunning, A-list actress covered in her dog’s vomit while driving to collect her children from school, even if it is a purely fictional scene in a film. More importantly, this conveys the message that an attractive physical appearance and the ability to be funny are not mutually exclusive, contrary to popular belief. After years of watching comedic actresses such as Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson shy away from slapstick comedies, instead opting to remain within the safe realm of rom-coms, it is refreshing to watch an actress like Mila Kunis branch out from romantic comedies.
At a time when there is a transfixion with funny women in Hollywood, from Jennifer Lawrence’s self-deprecating humour to the newfound fame of female stand-up comedians like Amy Schumer, a comedy comprised of mostly women was long overdue. The three leading ladies, Bell, Hahn and Kunis, are an unlikely combination. Despite this, they form a highly entertaining comedic trio, striking a hilarious balance between Hahn’s bold delivery and Bell’s subdued wit.
Although the premise of the plot seems promising, it is not long before holes in the plot are exposed. Also, while the ending attempts to be moving, it leaves a saccharine taste. Instead of keeping the film’s tone strictly light-hearted, Lucas and Moore intersperse Bad Moms with a handful of emotional scenes, intended to tug at the audience’s heartstrings. However, it is difficult to take these scenes seriously moments after watching the three protagonists cruising down a supermarket aisle, concocting cocktails from vodka and chocolate milk. Despite the disconnect between the film’s funny scenes and its more serious moments, Bad Moms succeeds in depicting an entertaining parody of modern-day, middle-class parenthood.
With an uncomplicated plot and a clichéd ending, Bad Moms is hardly a groundbreaking film, nor does that appear to be its intention. However, the comedy does try, at times too hard, to be funny – and it succeeds. The film is certainly worth watching, if only for Kathryn Hahn’s guffaw-inducing one-liners.
Bad Moms is showing in cinemas now.