“Christmas is an insane amount of work.”
Just days after Halloween and still weeks before Thanksgiving, I’m able to finally single out the one movie that I can confidently call both the biggest horror show of the year as well as the most prematurely jolly. Like nearly all comedy sequels, A Bad Moms Christmas repeats the same jokes as its predecessor in less interesting ways but with just as much false confidence, and for that the picture is utterly foolish. Last year’s Bad Moms is like the person at a holiday work party who enters the room, tells an original joke that’s actually funny, and then goes on to the next victim. On the other hand, Bad Moms 2 is the lush that comes out later on in the evening after too many cups of spiked November cider, relaying that same punchline to the same crowd for the umpteenth time. It’s not humorous or jocular; it’s downright embarrassing.
In Bad Moms, I felt bad for and sympathized with its three leading women. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I was a weird kid; I specifically remember mixing up a Pepsi/orange juice/Squeezit/straight sugar concoction for my Mom and seeing her sour face as she took a sip. Great Moms, like mine, endure those moments. Bad Moms is a solid comedy because it even further exaggerates the overwhelming and unforgiving life of a committed Mother. It’s a movie about people who can be both tenacious and beautiful, and how parenting from the female perspective can often be a competitive experience. In the original, Moms face off against their contemporaries and it works because they grow and mature from the resolution. Conversely, A Bad Moms Christmas resorts to cruelty, stupidity, raunchiness, and a completely overbearing sense of airmailed dignity.
The plot is sprite enough, and I’ll admit, makes a bit of sense too. When the Mothers of the original Bad Moms trio roll into town for an extended Christmas stay – circumstance at moviemaking’s finest – the bad is surely going to turn horrible. Amy (Mila Kunis) must deal with Ruth (Christine Baranski), an ostentatious woman who’s so critical that she appropriately compares herself to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The pushover Kiki (Kristen Bell) must face her tied-at-the-hip and obsessive single Mom Sandy (Cheryl Hines). The hard-partying Carla (Kathryn Hahn) actually smiles when she sees the long-lost roadie Isis (Susan Surandon) dropped off by a trucker in the driveway. To her it’s a respite from giving countless Brazilian waxes, even if Mom only ever comes around for some moola to gamble away. A Bad Moms Christmas doubles the volume of its cast, and that cash-grabbing maneuver halves its now Grinch sized heart. There isn’t enough time in this X-rated Hallmark film to give them all their due, and the countdown to Christmas story device does the movie no favors because it’s so carelessly utilized. Instead of looking forward to the next day like I did in Love Actually (a film the haughty Ruth detests), I couldn’t wait for the presents to be unwrapped and the childish drama to be put to rest.
A Bad Moms Christmas is a downright incompetent film that somehow features a lot of good performances. Our leading ladies are back and, although slightly less involved, no less true to their previous performances. The Grandmas are solid as well, especially Baranski as she hawks herself as a cold ice Queen while Hynes approaches her role with an outsider’s desire to fit in. Sarandon is supposed to be the baddest of the bunch and yet she feels the safest, her acting miscalculated, dependent upon props instead of performance. She’s the only “Bad Mom” here. This latest film from Jon Lucas & Scott Moore left me perplexed. As they did whilst writing the downward spiraling The Hangover trilogy, these two made a solid first film, and then they reduced both franchises to a copycat and unfunny gag. That the only laugh-out-loud scene in A Bad Moms Christmas involves firefighter/stripper Ty Swindel (Justin Hartley) getting his scrotum and gigantic penis waxed should tell you everything you need to know. Every joke lands with a thud, and each time a pile of dead pine needles fall to the floor.
“Alright, enough with the bad language.”
Rating: 1.5 out of 5