There is meant to be a simple, predictable arc to Bad Moms: overworked, under-respected mothers looks to break free of their proverbial shackles and loosen up. But because it’s an R-Rated comedy, it looks to make you laugh rather than think, and because it’s written and directed by a pair of men who have found success with raunchy films about man-children, then every version of motherhood here is stereotypical and reductive.
Some very funny women are mostly wasted in this puerile, superficial piece of tomfoolery where the occasionally witty and vulgar only momentarily lessens the boredom and idiocy. Amy (Mila Kunis) is an ‘I don’t know how she does it!” woman, taking her two active kids to school and sports, working part time, and tending to her lazy husband who is turns out is having an affair. To complete the cliche, she wears hideous mom clothes, including an ill-fitting bra (of course), drives a van, is the oldest person (at 32) at her cool hip job, and spills things while she’s driving because she just has no time.
I don’t know how she does it!
The would-be jokes at the beginning of the film involve Amy getting messy, arriving at awkward times, and tending to her three children (including her husband), who appear pretty helpless without her. Maybe she is a bad mom.
But Bad Moms doesn’t actually care about good or bad, nor does it even have a grasp on those concepts or anything the least bit compelling. It’s more like tightly wound moms turning into fun-seeking moms. Amy meets some more cliches: there’s Kiki (Kristen Bell) who has four kids, never goes out, and has a husband who does husbandy things like have a job and ignore the children. Then there’s Carla (Kathryn Hahn); she’s already a party mom, divorced and with a more capable child, which allows her to seek booze and sex on a regular basis.
They all rebel against their roles, which includes participating in the PTA run by dictatorial Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate, underused), a Stepford Wife who has a couple lackeys that basically manipulate the school when it suits their needs.
What ends up happening is that Amy and company swing far to one side, and try to end up back at some happy medium, but the message is muddled at best. Bad Moms tries to be heartfelt at times: Amy is the narrator, implying we’re on some important journey with her, which frequently involves montages and catchy pop songs. She has to deal with a whole slew of relationships, which inexplicably includes going to therapy with her deadbeat husband, and after he continues to act like a manchild, they have a warm hearted embrace as if to say, we tried and we’re both to fault. Really?
A speech during the finale isn’t exactly what anyone would call a stirring feminist declaration, more just another version of what the directors and presumably a fair portion of the audience would desire: a bunch of hot women getting drunk and having fun.