Review – A Bad Moms Christmas

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The first Christmas movie of the year has come out which means that it must be early November. This year, that honor goes to A Bad Mom’s Christmas, a sequel to last year’s raunchy comedy Bad Moms. For those who may have missed it, the first Bad Moms movie was about three overworked and overstressed mothers who, tired of being constantly pressured to be the perfect mother, decided to instead lean into the idea of being bad at motherhood. This of course sends shockwaves through the local PTA causing a fallout between the three main mothers and the head of the PTA. While it wasn’t a very strong movie, it’s easy to see how the subject matter could hit home with a certain audience causing Bad Moms to become an unexpected hit and a sequel to be fast tracked.

This time around, it’s not the PTA overburdening the “Bad Moms” group but instead the very concept of Christmas. With too much pressure from baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, holiday concerts, parties and everything else, Amy (Mila Kunis) decides to have a low key Christmas with her kids, and talks her two friends (Kristen Bell as Kiki and Kathryn Hahn as Carla) into doing the same thing. This plan however goes completely off the tracks when the mothers of all three characters show up for Christmas. As you can guess, these new mothers of the mothers throw everyone’s plans into mayhem as they all try to make it through the holidays.

Each of the newly introduced mothers is a broad stereotype of what a mom can be. Cheryl Hines plays the mother of Kiki, a traditional Smother character who has custom pajamas covered in pictures of Kikia and will imitate her daughter’s hairstyle. Susan Sarandon as Carla’s mom is all the way on the other end of the spectrum as a mother. We’re told that she hasn’t been around in several years, and usually only shows up to ask for money.

Christine Baranski is the main mother that’s added to the movie (seeing as she plays the mother of Amy, the main character). Baranski’s Ruth is more or less an exact copy of the character Christina Applegate played in the first movie as the head of the PTA. Obsessed with appearances, very judgmental of Amy, the characters are more or less the same. Applegate’s character could have easily filled in this role without much of anything having to change.

Because each of the main characters is dealing with their own mother issues, they actually don’t spend a whole lot of time together in this movie. They hang out maybe three or four times throughout the movie, but the bulk of the runtime is split into thirds as each mother/daughter storyline has to wait its turn before moving forward. And the two mother/daughter plots that aren’t Amy and Ruth don’t even get that much. Only their issues are given any time to work through while the other two plots are more or less reduced to a list of complains that someone might have about their mother.

While the first Bad Moms movie wasn’t particularly good, this one is almost frustrating in how it seems to go out of it’s way to highlight its issues. For example where and when does Amy work? She seems to have all the time in the world to hang out with her friends (all the kids mysteriously disappear for these segments by the way) Despite no mention of her job (at the end of the last move she had a part time job where she worked three days a week) She’s living a very comfortable lifestyle. Even before Ruth swoops in with her over the top christmas decorations, Amy’s life is a higher end one. Character motivations fluctuate wildly from scene to scene, sometimes within the same scene. Susan Sarandon leaves without warning at one point, which makes sense for her character, but then it turns out she didn’t leave a few scenes later. Why? Don’t know, the move never goes that deep into it.

But the most frustrating thing about the movie is it uses the idea of “Bad Moms” to justify itself all the time. The idea is clearly supposed to be some amount of wish fulfillment, of these three mothers doing things that you would never do in real life, but daydream about doing with holiday pressure is getting to you. But the character quickly cross the lines of being “bad moms” and just become bad people. They terrorize mall employees, vandalize anything they can get their hands on, and outright steal from stores and shoppers multiple times in the movie. It quickly goes from “I wish I could do that” to “I hope I’m never around when someone goes that crazy.”

These are characters that we’re supposed to empathize with but they all end up being so unlikable that it’s impossible to care about them at all. Attempts at humor just end up coming across as mean and uncaring, but the movie just doubles down on it like a bully trying to prove that they don’t care. Nobody in this movie deserves a good holiday. It’s a movie where everyone is making everyone else miserable, but the way they act, it’s misery they all deserve.

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