Have you ever fantasized about getting into a traffic accident that’s not bad enough to leave you permanently injured, but severe enough that it puts you in the hospital for a few weeks, where you can finally sleep, watch TV uninterrupted and be free of the daily decisions about what goddamn meal you’re going to make for dinner? If so, you’re going to like Bad Moms, even if it’s not a particularly great movie.
Bad Moms is going to appeal to nearly every “suburban soccer mom” in America, and that’s not meant as an insult. There are a lot of Dads out there who often fulfill duties typically associated with “suburban soccer moms” who are going to love Bad Moms, as well, because while it’s a formulaic The Hangover with Moms, there are enough kernels of parenting truth dotted throughout to help us relate and invest in these lovably, idiotic characters.
Mila Kunis plays Amy, an overworked Mom with a deadbeat husband, a demanding job staffed mostly by adult children, and two kids who need to be constantly shuttled from one activity to another. Amy is always late. Amy is always exhausted. Amy is never appreciated by her entitled children. After one particularly bad day, Amy finally breaks, stands up to the strident PTA President, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), and decides to say fuck it.
Amy makes two new best friends, the put-upon housewife Kiki (Kristen Bell) and the promiscuous single mom, Carla (Kathryn Hahn). Amy kicks her husband to the curb after she discovers he’s been having an online affair, and she and her new friends decide to blow off their responsibilities as mothers. Gwendolyn can’t deal, so she goes to war with Amy. They end up running against each other for PTA President, which plays out like a suburban war of attrition. There’s also a hunky love interest for Amy (Jay Hernandez) that she and her friends spend a lot of time objectifying, and for good reason.
Plot-wise, it’s thin, and the jokes are hit and miss. However, five or six times during the movie, one of the Bad Moms will say something so hilariously accurate and wrong that the target audience will be overcome with equal parts laughter and guilt. I watched with a theater full of suburban moms, and they were in stitches all the way up until the post-credits sequence, which had the cast talking about their childhoods with their real-life moms. It was adorable.
Kunis is fine in the movie, although even in sweatpants covered in pasta, she’s too put together to look like a harried mother of two trying to get through the day. Bell has a few great moments, although it’s strange to see Veronica Mars playing the dowdy welcome mat. Kathryn Hahn, however, steals the movie, as she does in most movies she’s in. She’s basically a Mom version of Melissa McCarthy’s character in Bridesmaids: Hilarious, filthy, and completely inappropriate.
Bad Moms is targeted at a very specific audience of women with children, most of whom aren’t able to get out and watch movies very often (despite being the wife of a movie reviewer, my own wife watches maybe two movies a year in the theater). That audience is going to adore this movie in part because several moments — exaggerated as they might be — ring true, and in part because they get to spend two hours in a theater away from the responsibilities this very movie is lampooning.
Indeed, there’s something cathartic about Bad Moms, not because it’s a great movie, but because it allows parents the freedom to at least think for a few guilt-free moments, “God, I love my children, but they are insatiable, exhausting, needy, endlessly hungry life ruiners” before going home and happily putting them to bed.