Review: Bad Moms 

Bad Moms is deeply flawed, but funny enough.

click to enlarge bad_moms.jpg

After reading one of my underground newspapers back in the '60s, my father said, “I'll tell you one thing – your generation is ruining the word 'fuck.'” I was startled. Though he swore fairly often, I'd never heard him use that word. He continued, “There are plenty of words that are more ugly or crude, but none of them pack the same punch. A well-placed 'fuck' can shock the hell out of a whole room full of people. It can be remarkably effective when used sparingly. But your generation throws it into every other sentence. You think you're being bold, but all you're really doing is taking the bite out of it. Keep it up and 'fuck' will end up being just another dirty word. It's a shame.”

The R-rated comedy Bad Moms is a perfect example of my father's complaint. One of the characters drops the F-Bomb early in the film to indicate how fed up she is. Then she uses it again. And again. Her primary rival in the story uses it to show what a bad ass she is. Then she uses it again and again. It goes on like that until a key scene at a PTA meeting, where the main characters fling it all over the place and no one seems to be bothered by it at all. At a PTA meeting.

My dad was right. Through reckless overuse, we've beaten “fuck” to death.

Bad Moms was co-written and co-directed by The Hangover franchise creators Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. It's a story about women written by men … because it's still like that. There's a scene in the film where a group of women discuss uncircumcised penises. One of them even does an impression of an uncut member. The scene is funny, but I believe it was included because men love to talk about their dicks so much that the writers couldn't resist it, even in a film about women dealing with women. And yes, I realize I'm writing about the penis scene even before telling you the plot of the movie.

The plot: Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) is a put-upon mother of two who catches her husband having an online affair and throws him out of the house. Stressed out by suddenly becoming a single parent, Amy finds the pressure increased by the bullying of PTA leader Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her toadies Stacie (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Vicky (Annie Mumolo). Amy finally blows a gasket and announces loudly (and with plenty of “fucks”) that she is finished following the rules.

Supported by new pals Kiki (Kristen Bell) and party animal Carla (Kathryn Hahn), she starts putting herself first. Her kids are stunned. Gwen and her cronies are infuriated. And war breaks out between the hard-partying rebels and the tight-ass PTA.

If the set-up sounds familiar, that's because it's been used for everything from Revenge of the Nerds to about a third of the subplots on The New Adventures of Old Christine. Does the movie work? At the sneak preview I attended, a significant number of the mostly female audience laughed hard throughout the movie (some howling in shock at the goings-on) and clapped enthusiastically at the end.

I laughed too, though not nearly as hard or as often. I was bothered by the characters and performances. Most of the supporting players were bland, and the main characters were one-note. Gwen is a sadistic dictator. Carla is the wild woman. Lead character Amy is better shaded, but the always likeable Mila Kunis seemed to be struggling with the character.

If you saw the terrible trailers for this film, all I can tell you is the movie is better than that. Bad Moms is deeply flawed, but funny enough. I suspect many of the women in the sneak preview crowd would tell you I'm being too fucking picky.


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