Bad Moms is a raunchy comedy with a sweet twist — just the sort of of exaggerated, real-world hilarity one would expect from creators of the Hangover franchise Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Despite the constant partying and seemingly all-too-perfectly summed-up plot, Bad Moms elicits laughter, a few tears and a powerful shred of truth about motherhood amidst the growing pressure of perfection in the modern world.
Bad Moms opens with a shot of a suburban neighborhood and a voiceover from Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) describing her seemingly impossible life as a mother, part-time employee and wife. Amy manages to pack lunches, shuttle her kids to school, sit through a work meeting and make dinner — all while looking fabulous. But after an incredible amount of bad luck befalls her on a single day, she chooses to quit trying to be the perfect mom and, instead, to live for herself. This doesn’t mean that she neglects her children. She just stops making their breakfasts and doing their science projects. Along her way to “bad mom-dom,” she befriends two other misfit moms, Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn). The three form a bad mom squad against the perpetually perfect Parent Teacher Association (PTA) moms, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), Stacy (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Vicky (Annie Mumolo).
What seems like the setup for an average family film featuring cookie-cutter houses and carpools quickly becomes a piece for a more mature audience, with four F-bombs in the first five minutes. This is followed by many other swear words and generous references to genitalia. As the title of the film indicates, one may very well be a “bad mom” if she chooses to watch this for family movie night.
The storyline doesn’t hold much substance, with multiple instances of drinking and a predictable family reunion ending. There are a few turns, though: Amy entertains a love interest and runs for PTA president to stick it to the perfect PTA moms. But the audience isn’t here for a dramatic, moral story. The audience is here to see moms get drunk and make penis jokes. And on these counts, the film delivers. It is not the next Academy Award winner, but it is an enjoyable, “laugh out loud” hour-and-a-half of entertainment.
The cinematography doesn’t break barriers either, with too many slow-motion action scenes (moms tearing through the grocery store, moms throwing a rager with cheap white wine, moms shedding their sweatpants for hot dresses). But altogether, the film makes for a slapstick comedy with slightly more substance than average.
In the current, male-dominated film industry, this film is a welcome change. The women hold the power, and watching their confidence grow is inspiring. A mother demanding free time (causing the father to take on child care duties), a wife leaving a cheating husband and demanding respect in a relationship and the constant referencing men as their genitalia display the film’s female empowerment and flipped gender roles. At times, the feminist message could have been played a little stronger. It’s a bit of a letdown that the core of the film involves two cliques of women fighting, or that every member of the PTA is a woman, except for the token widower hot dad, Jessie Harkness (Jay Hernandez). However, the female-led cast and the power that each actress brings to the screen greatly outweighs the cons. The film also passes the Bechdel Test, a feminist film test, all while staying true to the ridiculous, slightly profane comedy genre, so it can be let off the gender equality hook.
All in all, if you’re looking for a late-night comedy with some heart and a good effort in the feminist department, this is it. All of the actresses deliver solid performances of what it’s like to be a mom. Ultimately, Bad Moms proves that if you’re a mom, some regular self care, unconditional love for your children and a (un?)healthy dose of alcohol can make just about any day bearable.