Bad moms sheer entertaining

My review appeared in the new straits times

THE movie is based on the premise that it is impossible to be a good mother today because of the myriad things she has to do for the family on top of holding on to a job. Something just has to give.

 In the case of the titular character, Amy (Mila Kunis, best known for 2010’s Black Swan), she decides to embrace all her flaws, and throw good parenting books out with the garbage.

Two other mothers agree with her – a submissive Kiki (Kristen Bell of television’s Gossip Girl fame) and hot mama Carla (Kathryn Hahn, We Are The Millers).

Amy’s nemesis is the queen bee of the Parent-Teacher Association, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate, Anchorman) who is a perfectionist when it comes to what makes the ideal mother.

The high priestess of motherhood with the perfectly coiffured hair and immaculate clothes, leads the “Stepford” mothers clique comprising Stacy (Jada Pinkett Smith, better known as Will Smith’s wife) and Vicky (Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids).

When Amy decides she’s getting off the mothers’ merry-go-round, not only does that include getting her two children to do their own homework and make their own breakfasts (someone else obviously cleans the house!), but it also means kicking out a bum of a husband called Mike (David Walton of TV’s New Girl fame) who seems to be on perpetual holiday or on weed.

We cheer her as she starts to enjoy her life, although her children suffer a little in the aftermath of such decisions. No more healthy salads for school and no more doing their home projects for them.

I don’t know if getting drunk, not going to work, getting into bed with a hot guy (Jay Hernandez) and acting crazy at the supermarket constitute enjoying life, or being a bad mother. It’s just poor behaviour, and not just by a mother. That seems to be a Hollywood trend these past few years – from Bridesmaids in 2011 and Trainwreck (2015) to this year’s How To Be Single. These movies are all about women behaving like they are teenagers whose parents have left them oodles of money and have disappeared forever.

But here’s the real problem: Bad Moms seems to be a movie of clichéd stereotypes and no substance behind these characters.
Amy’s harried mother role; Kiki’s stay-at-home submission; Carla’s tarty singleness are just that, and so too the “Stepford” trio. No layers of depth have been given these characters.
Watching Bad Moms is like watching men tell women how they think bad mothers should behave. Perhaps the blame can be laid on the scriptwriters, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who are also the directors of this movie. These guys gave cinemagoers The Hangover movies (2009, 2011, 2013). Good fun but no brainers.
The best part of this movie is the friendship between Amy and her new mummy friends. It’s believable.

Bad Moms (like The Hangover) comes across as a series of gags rather than a good narrative that binds the premise. Here’s one example: When  Amy, Kiki and Carla decide to throw a “Make Amy the PTA president” party to get other mothers to support her, the scene becomes almost live cartoon!  It’s in-your-face humour. Hahn does the best comic screen turn since Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Hangover) stepped into the celluloid world. Hahn’s timing and delivery are natural. From the start, she makes her impact when she takes a selfie with tongue out and one hand pushing up her assets.

Hernandez is wonderfully suited as the “hunk” fantasy of every woman today. You can see more of him in Suicide Squad.

At its best, Bad Moms is plain entertainment, with a lot of sexual innuendos. I wouldn’t watch it again, but it’s guaranteed to make you laugh every now and then.

Filed under Arts, Cinema
Subhadra Devan

A journalist who has been writing about culture, arts and heritage since the 1980s. She is herself gobsmacked to have started the Sunday arts pages for English newspapers in Malaysia, in the new millennium. The passion for these genres rages on.

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