By MIchael Kaye
Bad Moms (Review)
One of these days, perhaps towards the end of the year, I'll be writing an editorial on the do's and don'ts of movie marketing. I'm so goddamn sick and tired of having to re-hash the same defense over and over again for each and every movie with a less than impressive trailer. For Christ's sake, there's only so many times I can say "don't judge a book by its cover" before it starts to lose its meaning. The most recent example of such a defense has been for today's film, Bad Moms, written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, best known for The Hangover.
Here's the story. A woman with a seemingly perfect life: a great marriage, overachieving kids, beautiful home, stunning looks and still holding down a career. However she's over-worked, over committed and exhausted to the point that she's about to snap. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms and all go on a quest to liberate themselves from conventional responsibilities, going on a wild un-mom like binge of freedom, fun and self-indulgence, putting them on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn and her clique of devoted perfect moms.
Hate me all you want, but I dug the hell out of this one. It's not perfect, not by a long shot, but I'm going into an R-rated comedy expecting to laugh, and I did. Here are my positives and negatives.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
First off, what really elevates this movie above most modern raunchy comedies is the cast. In sort of a meta fashion, I found that casting these specific actresses in the leading roles was brilliant, as they are rather under appreciated in the industry. Mila Kunis is likable enough as Amy, whose husband was caught cheating with an online porn star and is left to do all the heavy lifting in the house. She has great chemistry with Kristen Bell as the lonely sad sack Kiki and the show stopping Kathryn Hahn as Carla. It's funny, while all three actresses are better known for their work on TV, this movie allows them to really stretch their acting chops, and not just their comedic timing either. There are some really touching moments between Kunis and her two kids, played brilliantly by Oona Lawrence and Emjay Anthony. Even the antagonists are great, with Christina Applegate chewing a great deal of scenery with Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo. Finally, Suicide Squad fans get a chance to see Jay Hernandez as a nice supporting character and love interest for Amy.
This is the second film that was written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, and I thought they did a great job. It may not have the lightning in a bottle magic as The Hangover all the way through, but I thought it was an improvement over 21 and Over, which I thought while fun, relied way too much on gross out humor. Sure, this movie gets a little raunchy at times too, but that's not the only thing it has going for it. At its core, there's a message that really hits home about parenthood and not letting yourself get overworked. I bet my mom can really relate to most of the characters in this film, especially Amy. Growing up, my brothers and I were involved in so many different extra curricular activities, so I'm well aware of the struggles Amy and her friends have to face.
As far as some of the best comedic moments in the film, the trailers had it all wrong. Judging by how STX was marketing this movie, you'd think we were getting another Sisters, but in reality the tone is closer to Office Space. Think about it, Amy's arc in this film is not too far off from Peter's once both of them decide to stop caring. The results are more or less the same, with the major differences occurring in the third act. Both characters are part of a trio, and the grocery store scene in this film was quite reminiscent of the printer scene. And in a way, isn't Gwendolyn kind of a fresh new take on Bill Lumbergh? Don't worry, I'm not suggesting that Bad Moms is on the same level as Office Space, just that you can tell the writers and directors at least subconsciously used it as a reference point.
The end credits had something pretty special, where the cast got together with their mothers and talked about what it was like for them growing up. With all due respect to the late great Gary Marshall, but part of me would have preferred that THIS movie opened on Mother's Day weekend as opposed to the film named after the holiday.
Finally, the music was another highlight. Christopher Lennertz is a decent composer, he's worked with Alan Menken on the ABC musical series Galavant, as well as various other comedies over the past couple decades, including another Kristen Bell film from this year The Boss. The songs featured on the soundtrack are pretty great. Anytime I hear Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance" it immediately puts a smile on my face. Same goes for Demi Lovato's "Confidence," especially the way it's used here.
Talking negatives for a comedy is always the most boring part of a review, especially for one I liked. The reason for that is because comedy, more so than other genres, is super subjective. The humor that works for me may not work for others, and vice versa. In this case, I'm going to bring up the stuff that bugs me about any modern comedy, and that's when certain jokes overstay their welcome. You guys know I'm not a huge fan of gross out humor, and fortunately there isn't a whole lot of it in this movie. But every once in a while you'll find some jokes that are flat out duds.
Bad Moms is a good movie, despite the trailers suggesting otherwise. The acting is strong all the way through, the story is packed with enough heartwarming moments without feeling too sappy, and the laughs come at a steady pace. So go check out Bad Moms this weekend, it'll be great counter programming against Jason Bourne and Nerve.
Now I want to hear from you guys! Have you seen Bad Moms, and if so what did you think? Also, what are your favorite and least favorite raunchy comedies? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next review, where I look back at one of my favorite DC animated movies in preparation for Suicide Squad, Batman: Assault on Arkham!