Film review: BAD MOMS, from ‘Built For Speed’

In 2011 Bridesmaids set the standard for female raunch comedy. Neatly balancing obscenity and sensitivity the film showed that women behaving badly can be just as funny as men. Bad Moms aims to one-up Bridesmaids by taking those paragons of virtue, responsibility and compliance, namely, mothers and having them gleefully cast off the shackles of both domestic servitude and society’s impossible demands and go feral. The idea works about half the time which means the film hits the mark more often than most recent comedies.

Mila Kunis plays harried mother Amy Mitchell, a woman who seems to be in a constant frenzy running back and forth from her job at an annoying hipster coffee company to her kids’ school functions while doing all the domestic chores. Her nemesis is rich mom and PTA fuhrer Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) who, along with her henchwomen (Jada Pinkett-Smith and Annie Mumolo), creates impossible standards for working mothers like Amy to follow. Sick of her crazy schedule, Gwendolyn, the bake sales and her internet-masturbating slob of a husband (David Walton), Amy decides to ditch the perfect mom routine and behave like a delinquent teenager. Along with the lecherous divorcee Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and mousey oppressed mom Kiki (Kristen Bell), Amy parties, goofs off from work, cruises pick-up joints and rebels against Gwendolyn’s tyrannical PTA regime.

Bad Mom’s is cruder than Bridesmaids but not quite as funny; no one in this film matches the inspired craziness of Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Still, there are plenty of amusing moments in Bad Moms as Amy and her new buddies tear up the rule book on how suburban mums are meant to behave. The film occasionally slips into raunch comedy cliché, however, as in the inevitable scene where normally conservative types launch into bacchanalian fervour, showering each other with vodka in slow motion as Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’ pumps away on the soundtrack.

While Mila Kunis confirms her talents as a comic actor it is occasionally hard to see someone as glamorous as her as a repressed soccer mom. Kathryn Hahn is enjoyably obscene in both her lustful attitude to any passing male and her contempt for the uptight Stepford wife PTA women (not to mention her own child). It’s a little unusual seeing Christina Applegate as the villain but she pulls off the power-suited alpha female role convincingly. Jada Pinkett Smith isn’t given a lot to do as Gwendolyn’s off-sider while Annie Mumolo seems to be trying to impersonate Steve Carell’s bizarre Brick Tambland character from Anchorman.

In its latter stages the film eases up on the obscenity for some typical Hollywood sentimentality but as it has already successfully connected us with the characters, these sentimental scenes (including a touching in-credits sequence) generally work.

Bad Moms suffers a few flat spots and with raunch comedies appearing on our cinema screens almost as frequently as super hero films in the last few years, it’s a little familiar. Still, it’s occasionally very funny and one suspects, for some mothers, it will be exhilarating.

Nick’s rating: ***.

Genre: Comedy.

Classification: MA.

Director(s): Jon Lucas, Scott Moore.

Release date: 11th Aug 2016.

Running time: 100 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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