A Bad Moms Christmas

Bad-Moms-2-rev A Bad Moms Christmas  (2017)    STX/Comedy    RT: 104 minutes    Rated R (crude sexual content and language throughout, some drug use)    Director: Scott Moore and Jon Lucas    Screenplay: Scott Moore and Jon Lucas    Music: Christopher Lennertz    Cinematography: Mitchell Amundsen    Release date: November 1, 2017 (US)    Cast: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, Susan Sarandon, Jay Hernandez, Justin Hartley, Peter Gallagher, Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony, Lyle Brocato, Cade Cooksey, Ariana Greenblatt, Wanda Sykes.  

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 Everybody’s in such a hurry these days. Studios used to wait until Thanksgiving weekend to release Christmas-themed movies. A Bad Moms Christmas was released the day after Halloween. It’s kind of weird walking into the multiplex and seeing it play in the theater next to the one showing the latest Madea Halloween movie. Am I alone in thinking it’s too early for Christmas cheer? It hasn’t even gotten cold outside yet. Well, let’s not let my Grinch tendencies get in the way of a good time.

 Bad-Moms-2A Bad Moms Christmas is a sequel to last year’s hit comedy Bad Moms about a trio of moms who ditch their responsibilities to engage in all sorts of debauchery. This time around, they decide to reclaim Christmas for themselves. For mothers, Christmas is the most stressful time of year. There are a million things to do and never enough time to do them in order to create the perfect Christmas for their families. For Amy (Kunis, Ted), Kiki (Bell, The Boss) and Carla (Hahn, We’re the Millers), it’s worse. Their mothers are coming for the holidays. Oh, the horror! As we all know, emotional baggage comes with the gifts they bring for the grandchildren. It’s non-optional.

 Amy’s condescending mom Ruth (Baranski, The Big Bang Theory) is a perfectionist who feels compelled to constantly undermine and undo every one of her daughter’s efforts to give her family the mellow Christmas they want. It’s especially important since is their first Christmas since her divorce. Ruth insists on controlling everything, even hiring men to redecorate Amy’s house to her satisfaction, for the big extravagant party she plans to throw on Christmas Eve. Kiki’s mom Sandra (Hines, Son of Zorn) is a clingy, needy type who wants a close relationship with her daughter. Too close for Kiki, in fact. We’re talking about a woman who wears sweatshirts with her daughter’s face on them. She doesn’t understand the concept of “personal space”. Then there’s Carla’s mom Isis (Sarandon, Tammy), a drunken, degenerate gambler who only shows up in her daughter’s life when she needs money or a place to hide from law enforcement.

 One of the things that made the first Bad Moms so successful was that it understood how frustrating motherhood can be. It’s near-impossible to be all things to all people at all times yet they brave through all of it for the love of their children. Amy, Kiki and Carla connect over this and their friendship provides a much-needed catharsis. This handled rather lazily in A Bad Moms Christmas. Once again, the girls get drunk and say “Screw it!”. To hell with obligations, let’s party. Only this time, their hearts aren’t really in it. They’re not as committed to the debauchery and drunken escapades this time. This may be because the actresses aren’t really into their roles this time either. They still have good chemistry but you can see they’re half-assing it for the most part.

 Remember how well we got to know Amy’s two kids and their insecurities in the first movie? This time, they’re just along for the ride. Jane (Laurence, The Beguiled) and Dylan (Anthony, Chef) aren’t the neurotic mess and half-wit we got to know last year. Also, nothing is done with Amy’s relationship with her boyfriend Jessie (Hernandez, Suicide Squad) and his daughter Lori (Greenblatt, Stuck in the Middle). He’s super supportive despite the fact Ruth treats him horribly.

 Plot and character development are of little concern in A Bad Moms Christmas. It exists solely to deliver a large dose of holiday-themed crude humor about randy mall Santas, vagina waxes and phallic-shaped gingerbread cookies. The most surprising thing about A Bad Moms Christmas is that it really isn’t all that bad a movie. It’s better than I expected it to be. It’s a hit-or-miss affair that hits more than usual for a comedy sequel. It has a decent amount of laughs. Of the three moms-of-moms, Sarandon gets the most laughs as the wildly inappropriate Isis who thinks nothing of grinding and rubbing all over the stripper Santa (Hartley, This Is Us) her daughter likes. Baranski, who also plays a mother-from-hell on The Big Bang Theory (she’s Leonard’s mom), got on my nerves but she too has a few funny moments. Hines is okay but her character is fairly one-note.

 I laughed a few times during A Bad Moms Christmas. It is pretty funny in parts. The idea of the bad moms taking on Christmas is a good one. The inclusion of their own mothers is also pretty good. Sadly, twice the moms doesn’t mean twice the laughs. It should have been a lot funnier. But it could have been a lot worse. The writing isn’t as sharp. We get at least four sequences of slo-mo scenes of moms gone wild. And we get a cameo by Kenny G. Even with its flaws, I can almost guarantee it’s better than next week’s Daddy’s Home 2, another needless sequel about parents-of-parents (it’s the dads!) at Christmas time. There are enough laughs in A Bad Moms Christmas to justify the cost of a bargain matinee ticket. Plus, you don’t have to endure  90+ minutes of Will Ferrell. 

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