By Laurie Coker
We have all had “bad mom” moments – some we admit and some we will take to our grave. With that in mind, three moms (of varying ages), a soon-to-be mom and I attended an Alamo Draft House screening of the new film Bad Moms, starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Christina Applegate. Filmmakers take bad moms to the extreme, especially in one character, played with fervent zeal by actress Kathryn Hahn, but really do little to provide anything of true substance, relying instead on a tired tale of broken people and awkward relationships.
As if coming off the pages of perfect parents (physically and in beauty) magazine, Kunis (Amy), Bell Kiki), attempting to look frumpy, and Hahn (Carla) play mother’s whose children who attend the same school. Applegate plays Gwendolyn, the schools uptight, snobby and hard-handed PTA president. The premise is simple – kids, their academics, sports and extracurricular activities rule the lives of their mothers. Carla states, “I’d rather go to Afghanistan than attend another baseball game,” with such disdain and exasperation that we feel her frustration vividly. Making matters, worse, Gwendolyn calls “emergency” PTA meetings constantly and bake sales items –for which everyone must contribute – cannot include wheat, gluten, sugar, nuts and the list goes on and on. Amy, after discovering her husband is having an affair with an online mistress, puts her foot down and enlists Kiki and Carla to oust Gwendolyn as the queen of the PTA and she will stop at nothing, even slandering Amy’s tween daughter and calling in Martha Stewart.
The stars of Bad Moms seem to have a good time and their chemistry is palpable. Applegate seethes high school bitch turned helicopter mom – complete with the snarky remarks, the snarl and the pent up low self-esteem. Bell, whose character is a stay-at-home mom with five kids and a controlling husband, nearly pulls off the meek and mousy character, until writers screw that up. Kunis, who frankly looks too put-together to be a frazzled mom, does carry her character Amy pretty well and with high energy. It is Hahn’s ostentatious, foul-mouthed, over-sexed divorcee, that offers up the film’s most blush-worthy moments. The language, too (many, many F-bombs) creates cringes coming mainly from the mouth of Carla.
Bad Moms is a bit like a “Hangover” buddy film, except with mothers and not men, but filmmakers fail to capture the true nature of the struggle that modern mothers face. Instead, they choose to spend several minutes incorrectly describing circumcision, showing party sequences that rival the ones in the Neighbor’s films and picking on trite aspects of relationships and of parenting. To be fair, the film, rightly rated R, does garner some laughs and did have the screening audience chattering, but I can still only afford it a C. There was notable potential for a far better story and richer messages.