The last movie that tried to honor mothers didn’t do so well (“Mother’s Day,” I’m looking at you). It’s especially more concerning when a movie written about women and their roles as mothers is written by two men. “Bad Moms” goes through all the usual tropes and goes the extra mile to ensure that each of the three main characters are extremely different from each other, but then this becomes an issue of relatability. There are some chuckle-worthy moments, but the film is just another run-of-the-mill comedy that just sticks to the usual dilemma of creating one-dimensional characters and is easily forgettable.
Amy (Mila Kunis) suffers from trying to do too much. Not only is she a full time mom to an over-achieving daughter (Oona Laurence) and a spoiled son (Emjay Anthony), but she also has to take care of her man-child husband, Mike (David Walton), and juggle a part-time job at a hipster company that has her working overtime minus the gratitude. To Amy, we can all relate. Whether or not a woman has kids, the pressures of trying to do too much stacked against the expectations of doing these things simply because you may be a woman is not lost on anyone. And the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Amy is when she finds out that her husband has been cheating on her with a woman he met online.
Fed up with living in a loveless marriage, juggling everything at once, and trying to please the dictatorial PTA president, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), whose mission in life is to control the school and make everyone miserable doing it while staying on top, Amy has an epiphany. Joining forces with fellow moms–Carla (Kathryn Hahn), a single mother who lives on the wild side and pretends she doesn’t really love her son as much as she actually does, and Kiki (Kristen Bell), a mother of four who doesn’t get out much and is treated disrespectfully by her husband–Amy decides to run for PTA president and buckles down on not trying to do everything. Because she’s a “bad mom” and bad moms aren’t perfect. This is where you’ll kind of get the message, but the delivery isn’t very assertive and misfires by mislabeling itself.
The film is targeted at the demographic of mothers, but definitely a certain age group of mothers. Women who are thirty, or still in their thirties, and never really got to live their twenties, but have suffered under the weight of burden that comes with the family lifestyle. However, the film, which is written by two men, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, don’t particularly know how to write women and instead turn the film into an over-the-top extravaganza.
An exaggeration permeates the film, and I understand that sure, many are played for laughs, but the extent of pettiness that ensues over the PTA alone is questionable and overzealous. Kunis’ character goes from the stereotypically rotten husband who cheats and right into the arms of a seemingly perfect man in Jay Hernandez. Her boss is the youthful Clark Duke who continuously refers to her as old, even though she’s only thirty two and isn’t much older than him. Even Hahn’s character, though a lot of the comedy comes from her, is too one-dimensional and the drama that exists in the film never particularly rings true and most of the comedy is very hit or miss.
“Bad Moms” is a pretty forgettable comedy targeted at mothers but it ultimately fails to strike the right balance between sincere and outrageous. The message, while making it clear that no mom is perfect and that’s not what makes someone a good mom, isn’t bad, but the way it’s suggested and presented only ends up reinforcing the fact that women constantly feel like they have to do everything to begin with. There is no in between and all issues are too surface-level and just shy of pathetic. Do these screenwriters not understand women at all? Probably not.
The film’s comedy doesn’t entertain for too long and certain actors–like Jada Pinkett Smith, whose character could have been better served and wasn’t–are neglected. She is just there to be one of Applegate’s cronies and it’s not a good look. Clearly, “Bad Moms” is a film that isn’t really written with moms in mind and takes the easy way out with a lot of the issues it attempts to tackle, even humorously. Sure, a comedy can be outrageous, but the core of this film isn’t a solid one and it lacks any real sentiment and heart.
"Bad Moms" is a film that isn't really written with moms in mind and takes the easy way out with a lot of the issues it attempts to tackle, even humorously.