As Halloween comes to a close and everyone ignores Thanksgiving, Christmas is coming to the forefront of the holiday season. With it comes the roll of TV holiday specials, pop covers of classic carols and, of course, the myriad of Christmas movies to be released.
“A Bad Moms Christmas” proves that a loose Christmas theme is not enough to compensate for disjointed jokes, uncomfortable vulgarity and embarrassing performances.
“A Bad Moms Christmas” is the sequel to “Bad Moms” — a film in which working mom Amy (Mila Kunis); uptight, stay-at-home mom Kiki (Kristen Bell); and neglectful, free-spirited mom Carla (Kathryn Hahn) decide to fight back against the relentless pressure and expectations on mothers of today. The original film showed the moms in raunchy situations depicting their transition into relaxed mothering tactics, with stupid yet satisfying jokes and a cathartic relief for mothers confronted with the dull trudge of parenting — but the holiday spin-off provides none of these things.
From the iMovie-aesthetic time cards counting down the days till Christmas, the narration that scares you at the end because you forgot it was a part of the film and the Walmart-esque lighting — production decisions alone set audiences up for a painfully long venture.
It’s not even the type of bad movie you love to watch. It’s the type where you can feel every minute passing by slowly and torturously.
The first film is not a model for modern comedy by any means, but at least it had some quality and diversity in its scenes — we see the moms participating in funny antics while also being good parents. The only part of the new film that hones in on the former in is when they get drunk off food court beer, sexually harass the mall Santa (which is problematic) and steal a Christmas tree from Lady Foot Locker. The rest of the movie featured what seemed like a commercial for Sky Zone, a pause-filled, drawn-out waxing scene and a cleaning montage to wrap it up.
The whole point of the original film is completely lost in this holiday feature. The original film shows Amy, Kiki and Carla being good moms without adhering to tropes of motherly excellence. In this film they aren’t even moms. They’re maybe just alcoholics.
The light-hearted empowerment that comes from the idea of watching a bunch of overworked moms let loose and have fun is not what this film is about. It’s nothing but bickering that’s obviously supposed to be funny and desperate attempts at crude jokes. They don’t break free from the chains of maternal expectations. They just don’t want to go caroling and put up with their own mothers.
The blows to the plot and purpose of the film are not the only issues. While the idea of the Amy’s, Kiki’s and Carla’s mothers coming to town for the holidays seems like a concept that couldn’t be easier to execute, it ends up being shockingly disappointing and predictable. Each grandmother was unbearably irritating in their own way.
Christine Baranski as Amy’s rich, tight-ass mom Ruth is the kind of character you don’t even love to hate — you just hate. She plays your typical rich white lady who tries to run her daughter’s life and suck the Christmas spirit out of her. Her dialogue is full of overplayed, racist jokes about Amy’s Mexican boyfriend and snubs targeted at her daughter that are just tiresome.
Kiki’s mom Sandy, played by Cheryl Hines, is the most overbearing mother of the group, desperate to be as close to her daughter as possible. Including sitting in the dark as Kiki and her husband begin having sex, her character crosses uncomfortable boundaries that are hard to watch, let alone laugh at.
Susan Sarandon, playing Carla’s rock-n-roll mother Isis, has never stooped lower. Besides her name that makes for insensitive jokes, trivializing the traditional Mexican name as well as the seriousness of the terrorist group, Isis is forgettable. Her most memorable scene was when she rubbed up on a stripper Santa, something no one needs to see Sarandon do. She’s the grifter mom we’ve seen one too many times, and it’s boring.
The underlying systemic issues along with all the content problems make “A Bad Moms Christmas” a Christmas catastrophe that even Santa himself couldn’t save.
Contact Maisy Menzies at [email protected].