The dilemma of the day was that the only movies that I have yet to see until the weekend were Nine Lives and this movie. Based on all available evidence, Nine Lives is going to be a garbage movie, so I went to this one because it had the possibility of being good.
Unfortunately for me, Bad Moms was also a garbage movie. Now before you close this review and disregard my opinion because I’m not a mom: my standard for movies does not depend on whether or not I can completely relate to the main characters. Though that does help, my philosophy on movies is that movies should be built along a premise that deals with the human experience (which Bad Moms somewhat attempts to do), but do so genuinely and interestingly (which Bad Moms utterly fails to do).
Instead, we get another comedy that decides that it’s more important to wring the story dry of any meaning in exchange for making a hyperbolic cartoon. To the movie’s credit, it does excel slightly better than most comedies at creating themes that seem genuine, but they do not make up for just how terrible its other parts are.
Mila Kunis’ job in the film is to be more of a caricature of a mom having a perpetual bad day than to be an actual character. The reason I know this is not just because the script is painfully unsubtle, but because her entire family is just a bunch of props that symbolize just how hard being a mom is. Out of her two children, the movie often forgets that she even has a son. They do spend a few more scenes with her daughter, but even then there are so many times during the film where I couldn’t help but think, “where in the world are her children whenever she’s drinking, hanging with the girls, or trying to get into that one guy’s pants?”
Her husband, the man-child, is a walking cartoon that seems to solely exists to give some excuse to the bad choices Kunis will eventually make. When the movie tells us that he’s hugely successful at his job, it immediately made me wonder why Kunis is even working every single day at her part time job? If the answer isn’t because she needs the money, then the only answer I can think of is that the film just wanted to emphasize just how bad her life is. Eventually after the husband cheats on her, they go to therapy, and they have this completely forced fight that causes the professional counselor to say, after one session mind you, “Man, your guys’ marriage is not salvageable. Ya’ll should just give up.” But finally, after they decide that they should divorce, the tension between them completely dissipates, and they become best buddies.
The vast majority of comedy in this movie is oversimplified/overstated gags or what seems to be lightly-edited improv sessions. At one point, I lost all hope of this movie actually having some sort of warm and heartfelt message to it. But don’t think that they won’t pretend that they had something wonderful to say once the movie is done and over.
To my everlasting surprise, Kathryn Hahn, the woman who plays the obnoxious and slutty single mom, was the only character that I actually enjoyed watching. Sure, quite a few of her lines are eye-roll worthy, but she’s the only character who seemed to have some sort of believable drive and development, and she’s the only person who has a somewhat likable character arc.
Everyone else was just some sort of unlikable and/or uninteresting buffoon. Kristen Bell was slightly quirky and needy (yet for some reason everybody calls her a creep instead), and when they introduced her controlling husband, I thought maybe this might be some sort of interesting character development. Unfortunately, the movie quickly sends him off to the island of forgotten characters <minor spoiler> only to return when Kristen Bell makes the realization that no, her husband shouldn’t be the psychotic, controlling, nitpicking spouse… SHE should be the psychotic, controlling, nitpicking spouse. Isn’t that great? </minor spoiler>
At one point, I wasn’t sure if the movie was trying to get me to root for these women or to see them as the unlikable people that this movie unintentionally made them out to be. Am I supposed to feel good when the trio starts neglecting their children to have massive drinking parties with their friends? This movie is disingenuous about the protagonist’s problems, and presents only a solution that is completely destructive. Of course, nobody reaps the consequences of these bad choices so I spent the entire movie wondering what exactly I was supposed to feel (well, the movie pretends to discipline Kunis for a bit, but after that, she gets off scot-free).
The only man that this movie doesn’t demonize is the eye-candy single dad who has a thing for Mila Kunis, and he had as much character development as any attractive bimbo that co-stars in an Adam Sandler movie (maybe that was the point, but if it was, would you excuse this tactic whenever Sandler does it?)
The soundtrack was about as loud and obnoxious as this entire movie was.
As the credits started rolling, they actually showed a few interviews they did where one of the female stars sits down with their biological mother, and they share heartfelt stories about their relationships, and the whole time this happened, I thought, “Wow… if only they did something this genuine for the entire movie.”
Bad Moms is completely disingenuous and inconsequential. Instead of feeling like an actual movie, it felt more like a bunch of individual sketches portraying the inner, dark fantasies of the most disenfranchised suburban mothers (all the while praising them for it). If you liked this movie, and somehow got through this review, no I’m not saying that you’re a bad person if you enjoyed Bad Moms. Don’t let me stop you from enjoying it, but as far as I’m concerned, there is very little value that this movie has to offer aside from a handful of funny lines and a few fragments of good ideas, and I’m giving this movie a 3 out of 10.