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A Bad Moms Christmas

Theatrical Review


STX Entertainment; 104 minutes

Director: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore


Written by Murphy Kenefick on November 1, 2017 




Arriving just in time to kick off the holiday season, A Bad Moms Christmas is exactly as structurally safe and verbally vulgar as one might expect. Based off the success of the amusing first installment, the table was easily set for a holiday version with a few new additions. This time, our beloved bad moms each have bad moms of their own, who all conveniently show up to ruin Christmas in one way or another. Each of them (Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon) serve as foils to their respective children, and predictable conflict ensues.

Baranski’s uptight, Hines is clingy, and Sarandon is too flaky to be trusted. And with these trope-y conflicts, we’re off to the races. They push our original bad moms to their breaking points early on, and they decide that they have to take Christmas back. This means swapping elaborate Christmas decorations and routines for a more low-key one that’s more focused on the trite theme of familial togetherness. While Ruth (Baranski) wants to go caroling and see the five-hour Russian “Nutcracker” film (honestly, sounds good to me), Amy (Kunis) takes them to play dodgeball instead. It’s a dispute the likes of which we’ve seen in Meet the Fockers, Why Him?, and so on, but when set to Christmas with an almost entirely female cast, it’s different enough to be its own thing.

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The easy standout is Christine Baranski, who delivers each of her lines with such cold precision that it diffuses the usual raunchy tone. Her talent and experience is clearly miles ahead of the one-note material, and the life she breathes into each of her scenes is consistently welcome. Her entrance into the story signals a potential upgrade into something cleverer, but the script continues to delve into bathroom humor and predictable sexual references. As Amy’s mom, Ruth is the only person who finds these jokes to be appalling and unamusing, so it’s nice that at least a portion of the audience’s viewpoint will be represented.

The most recognizable bit from the first movie is the now famous (?) sequence where our bad moms tear up a grocery store in slow motion, set to Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” Naturally, that scene had to be recreated in an early sequence in the mall…and then at a Skyzone…and then with a gaggle of Santa strippers. It’s 90-percent fun and games and it works exactly for what it’s trying to do. There are plenty of earned laughs along the way, usually because of the leads’ commendable comic timing and the rapid-fire dialogue. But we know the slo-mo Christmas gags can’t last forever. Inevitably, a forced emotional breaking point between the characters occurs then is quickly resolved in a 15-minute stretch that feels abrupt and studio-mandated. There are tears, hugs, and speeches about forgiveness that are crudely packed into the same movie about Brazilian waxes. Somehow, it’s become so customary in this universe that it feels normal.

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To give the directors credit, they certainly know what works for their target audience and reproduced exactly that, with little other trimmings. One’s enjoyment all depends on what they are expecting to get out of a studio comedy sequel; if you desire something light, occasionally surprising, and ultimately unchallenging, then A Bad Moms Christmas is for you. Essentially, it’s a made-for-Redbox movie, but there’s some enjoyment in unwrapping this overly familiar package.

A Bad Moms Christmas is now in wide release.


C+







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