Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn
Directed: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
The Hangover has a lot to answer for. That terrific piece of manic hilarity was a huge hit primarily because we like to see funny people do crazy shit with a dash of reality; we’ve all had one of those mental drunken nights except this was dialled all the way to 11. However since then we’ve had numerous attempts at mining comedy from different demographics doing said crazy shit. Kids getting drunk in Project X, women doing it in Bridesmaids and now workaholic mums showing they can party with the rest of them. Thankfully Bad Moms can sit alongside Bridesmaids and Hangover in the pantheon of good films featuring funny people doing crazy shit; although coming from the writers of The Hangover does give it an advantage.
Mila Kunis taps into that spiky comedy vein which has been sorely lacking in her big screen career so far (her straight role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall doesn’t count) to play Amy. A hard working mum (yes I’m going to use the British spelling as I’m not a lunatic) who manages to juggle being unappreciated at work, attending every PTA meeting and seeing all her kids’ events alongside her boar of a husband. After a particularly bad day featuring said hubby caught masturbating to another woman, crashing her car and just being genuinely stepped on, Amy attends an emergency PTA meeting head by a savagely cutting and brilliant Christina Applegate, only to lose it when she realises it was all to discuss the monthly bake sale. Amy, alongside low self esteem stay at home mum Kristen Bell and slutty outspoken Kathryn Hahn, decide to be bad moms. Partying, cutting loose and abandoning the pressures of trying to live up to a certain unobtainable standard.
Story-wise this is about all you get, what follows instead are frequently hilarious set pieces involving supermarket hi-jinks, talking honestly and dirtily about getting back in the sack, and the obligatory drunken party scene. Through all this the central trio display terrific chemistry, with Bell being the unexpected breakout; her loneliness adding a real air of sadness to proceedings and giving rise to the films’ big pump the air moment.
The whole film benefits from sneaking in some perceptive observations around the pressures of motherhood and the unrealistic expectations we place on our kids. Although it avoids going too far in order to make room for a few more chats about how Kathryn Hahn’s Carla likes cock. Luckily you’ll be laughing too much to care. I can imagine this will play huge with the middle aged mum crowd, for whom this film is explicitly made for.
Unfortunately all this clever observation and consistent laughter gives way to an ending laced with hugely over the top wish fulfilment. Everything turns out well for all concerned, a last minute switcheroo for Applegate’s character being particularly misjudged with only Kathryn Hahn’s dramatically small and subtle final moments with her son feeling believable. For a film that frequently finds the truth in the laughs, it all comes across as a tad distasteful. It is somewhat saved by a touching final credits montage of the stars with their own mothers sharing revealing glimpses into their parental misgivings.
Verdict: These may be Bad Moms but they are also dirty, real and incredibly funny. Seek it out.