I thought the original Bad Moms was a middling but amusing film that probably worked best in group outings. However, while the idea of watching Moms get ripped, swear profusely, and bang a bunch of dudes felt novel in 2016, it already feels old hat in 2017. Moreover, the formula for Bad Moms is not that different from the formula for The Hangover movies from the same writers: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
Likewise, Bad Mom’s Christmas is a lot like The Hangover 2, which is to say: Not nearly as good as the original, and the original wasn’t exactly a groundbreaking comedy. Worse, while The Hangover 2 took the same formula of the original and ramped it up in the sequel, Bad Mom’s Christmas actually goes the other way. There’s less drinking. There’s less swearing. There’s less banging. But there’s a lot more worrying and fretting. The message in Bad Mom’s Christmas is less “cut loose” and more “just chill,” which might feel comforting, but it doesn’t offer as many opportunities for laughs.
Bad Mom’s Christmas sees the arrival of the Mom’s moms. Christine Baranski plays Ruth, the controlling, wealthy “everything must be perfect” Mom of Amy (Mila Kunis). She comes in and takes over Christmas from her daughter, overstuffing the house with Christmas decorations, holding a fancy party with Kenny G, and generally turning Christmas into a bigger chore than it already is. Cheryl Hines plays Sandy, the mother of Kiki (Kristen Bell). She’s a stalker mom: She wears sweaters with her daughter’s face on them; she gets the same haircut as her daughter; and she hangs out in her bedroom and spies on her daughter while she’s sleeping with her husband. Susan Sarandon, meanwhile, plays Isis (and yes, they make that joke a couple of times), the mom of Carla (Kathryn Hahn). Isis is Carla x3. She’s a degenerate gambler, an absentee mother, and a drunk. But as with the other two moms, Carla is a thinly drawn caricature.
Indeed, as much as I like Baranski and Hines (Sarandon can go fuck herself), the grandmothers do little other than to push Mila, Kristen, and Kathryn to the side. Carla is the only character who gets much in the way of a motherless subplot (she’s pursuing a male stripper played by This Is Us’ Justin Hartley), but even the Mom eventually stands in the way of that. The drinking and partying antics that livened the first film are more or less limited to a musical montage set in a mall. There aren’t enough antics, and the antics that do exist are low rent (a dodgeball game set in a trampoline park, for instance).
I mean, it’s a fine enough diversion, I guess, if only because of a great cast (besides Sarandon who, again, can go fuck herself). Sadly, it is otherwise a sloppily written, lazy echo of an echo that actually seems to do the opposite of its intent: All the talk of Christmas stressed me out about the holidays, nearly two months before Christmas even arrives. Maybe an early November release at least means that by Christmas, it’ll be available On Demand and in airplanes, which is where it is best suited.