Written By: Nigel Asipa
What is Christmas these days? What does it truly mean anymore? When is the right time to start getting ahead on buying presents and how elaborate should this Christmas be compared to last year?
For mothers, i imagine it’s competition. Within themselves, against their neighbours and the rest of their family. I myself am detached from caring about Christmas. Not because i think it’s pointless, its probably i’m not a parent. What do we as a culture do Christmas for? if the kids is what we do it for, than parents these days are becoming more pressured than ever.
For A Bad Moms Christmas, it addresses that for mothers, their motherhood is measured by the amount of presents they can get to ensure their children are proud of them. It’s the cautionary tale to not be consumed by consumption and ensuring your children know what makes Christmas important.
Set nearly a week before the big day, Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) is still the prim proper, career orientated mother that we remember and is desperate to make this Christmas like her kids envision it to be. As soon as she reaches her head above water and can finally relax, she has the OMFG face. Her mother’s coming. She’s the super critical, authoritative diva that has her daughter do her bidding to ensure her idea of Christmas is fully realized.
Then there’s Kiki (Kristen Bell), the adorable but nerdy mom whose own mother Sandy (Cheryl Hines) is overbearingly loving and disturbingly clingy who looks more like her sister if anything. Kathyrn Hahn’s Carla is still her loose, feral self and her Christmas plans are shifted when her mother Isis (Susan Sarandon) shows up to hang out with her daughter. Carla sees through the guise and knows she really needs money, again.
Complaining of how they spend their entire lives trying to please their own mothers, like before, Amy, Kiki and Carla look to tap into their rebelliousness again and go against the social norm as to what is expected of moms at Christmas, setting themselves up as foil for their own mothers in the process. This includes stealing a huge xmas tree, giving the shopping mall Santa a lap dance all while being pissy drunk.
There’s an article i read on why Christmas can be the most stressful time of the year for mothers everywhere. A Bad Moms Christmas has a good reason to exist, only what lets it down far to often is the dependence on raucous, ridiculous extremes the mothers resort to ‘take Christmas back’. The moments that are meant to be heartfelt just come off as phony and contrived.
Kristen Bell does her best to sell why A Bad Moms Christmas is worth seeing, but like any comedy, it’s only as strong as its script both penned and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore who worked on its predecessor.
For Amy’s Mom Ruth (Christine Baranski), she’s having none of it and intends to whip her daughter into shape for the sake of saving Christmas. She laments on how it’s a generational thing on how her mother nurtured her, as she puts it “mothers don’t enjoy they give joy”. On a comedic level it falls flat at a head scratching rate and feels half assed (Susan’s Isis is jokingly compared to that of the terrorist organisation, that’s the extent of the wit here), but for many moms this ought to tickle them pink as it’ll remind them of their own escapades of enacting their perfect Christmas.
Even with the terrific chemistry abound, the cast is under the mercy of tired tropes we’ve seen many times in christmas comedies. It has way too many slo mo montages and characters that exist purely for the comedic thread. Isis and Sandy i had problems with in particular, they don’t feel like real people or at least i didn’t believe in what they did at times.
Because the comedy isn’t as sharp (i barely laughed, i sniggered here and there), the drama that unfolds doesn’t feel earned and so i couldn’t appreciate the dynamic between the mothers as i ought to.
Bad Moms was fresh and lively with a Judd Apatow kind of feel as it explores a different angle to the domestic comedy. It’s edginess and poignancy felt real and somewhat timely for the modern mum.