3 out of 4 stars
Go ahead, moms: leave your kids with a babysitter, ditch the husband or boyfriend and drive straight to the theater and treat yourself to a couple of hours of jokes about uncut male private parts, unflattering bras and how integral the TV show Blue Bloods is to a satisfying sex life.
Moms, you’ve earned this time to laugh at raunchy, tasteless jokes. You’ve changed more than your share of diapers, cleaned up plenty of messes and probably have sat through five Ice Age and four Madagascar movies with your kids. It’s time to watch other moms run around, get drunk on cheap wine and Martha Stewart-made Jell-O shots, and most of all, show that being a “bad” mom can be a good thing.
You remember The Hangover, with all of its crude, I-can’t-believe-it-went-there humor? Well, what that movie is for men, Bad Moms is for moms — pure, shameless fun that will have you looking forward to a surefire sequel. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn are as good together in Bad Moms as Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms are in The Hangover, which was also directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
Kunis plays Amy, a 32-year-old mother of two whose marriage dissipates, forcing her to juggle her part-time job that forces her to work full-time hours without the commensurate pay while still taking her two ungrateful middle schoolers everywhere. Of course, she can’t catch everything. Amy reaches her breaking point when parents are called for an emergency PTA meeting by snobby president Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) to inform them their bake sale confections can’t contain sugar, flour and eggs.
She heads to a bar, where she commiserates with fellow moms Kiki (Bell, known for being the voice of Anna in Frozen) and Carla (Hahn). Kiki’s controlling husband won’t let her meet friends for lunch without feeding her a guilt trip as to why a babysitter is watching their kids, while Carla, a divorcee, loves drinking and sex, maybe not in that order. “I’d rather go to Afghanistan than another one of my kid’s baseball games,” Carla, displaying her laissez-faire attitude, says.
After a few drinks and a pledge to become “bad moms,” the three go drunk-grocery shopping and proceed to change the way you’ll look at certain produce and whip cream again. And when Amy shows up with doughnut holes at the bake sale, it’s taken as a declaration of war by Gwendolyn, who retaliates by forcing the school’s soccer coach (a terrific cameo by NFL All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt) to punish Amy’s daughter.
The main storyline plays out when Amy decides to challenge Gwendolyn for the PTA presidency, which leads to competing house parties where Amy’s bash lets the moms act like drunken sorority girls.
Naturally, you know who comes out on top in the election. But Amy’s mission was never about earning votes; it was about showing everyone, especially Gwendolyn and her two cohorts Stacy (a too-seldom used Jada Pinkett Smith) and Vicky (Annie Mumolo) that you don’t have to be perfect to be a great mom. Sometimes all it takes is doing nothing, like forcing children to make their own breakfast from a well-stocked pantry or complete school projects on their own.
Though very good, Bad Moms could have been more than that had Lucas and Moore pushed the rude and crude humor further like they did in The Hangover franchise. Will you ever forget the scene with Helms and the Thai transvestite prostitute? Didn’t think so. In Bad Moms, it’s as if Lucas and Moore purposely took their foot off the accelerator because they didn’t want to cause the same comedic car crash they did with The Hangover.
Instead, they played it much safer, refusing to take the humor over the top. That’s too bad, because it they had, Bad Moms would have been out of this world.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 18 years experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He’s also an editor for CBSSports.com. He’s crossing his fingers the only baseball team in Baltimore that will contend for a title this summer won’t be his fantasy squad, the Catonsville Cartel. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.