A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS: Wilder But Inferior Sequel
A Bad Moms Christmas is mediocre after the original film, with stale jokes that lift the film away from reality and biting satire.
I loved Bad Moms. It was a crackerjack piece of entertainment that based itself on realities, and even quite satirical with truthful character types, struggles and scenarios of suburban parenthood. It had a killer joke-per-minute ratio, quick gags thrown in even when things got serious like when Amy busts her husband cheating, and I couldn’t pick an MVP amongst its delightful cast (though gun to head, I’d probably say Kathryn Hahn).
I ended up seeing Bad Moms twice, so suffice to say I was excited to see A Bad Moms Christmas and didn’t let the negative reviews temper my hype. So how is it?
Meet the parents
This time around, the three central mothers must face the double dilemma of organising Christmas and dealing with the return of their own mothers. The three grandmas are well-cast – Christine Baranski is Ruth, mother of Amy (Mila Kunis), Cheryl Hines is Sandy, mother of Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla’s (Kathryn Hahn) mother is played by Susan Sarandon, her character’s name is…Isis.
All three actresses deliver the goods as exactly the type of mothers you’d expect the three central characters to have – different enough but with similarities that bridge the gap between the two generations – and they’re ridiculously entertaining to watch – plus a special shout-out to Peter Gallagher for his near-silent role as Amy’s father Hank, who only ever hilariously expresses himself through facial reactions due to Ruth’s dominance in their family.
However, I must say I found Christina Applegate’s presence sorely missing. Part of it’s due to how exaggerated their wild personas are – Ruth is EXTREMELY ruthless, Sandy has TOO MUCH love for her daughter, and Isis is a HUGE deadbeat – they provide laughs nevertheless, but Applegate’s believable Gwendolyn was more entertaining.
Aiming to repeat the success of Bad Moms, sometimes literally
The core trio of Kunis, Bell and Hahn also bring the goods yet again, even when they re-engage with familiar material that were effective the first time at least, like more monologues on the difficulties of motherhood and the slow-motion shopping sequence in the first one replicated in the mall this time around. Hahn was generally considered to be the breakout of the first film so she’s the one served with the wildest subplot – she now waxes vaginas and enters a relationship with Ty, a male stripper client well played by TV star Justin Hartley.
The humour is broader, opening with the broadest of visual gags as a camel strolls through Amy’s house (which brought back awful repressed memories of the opening deer gag in Grown Ups 2, the last comedy sequel any comedy sequel should inspire to be) and has lengthy jokes that are a little too commonplace in R-rated comedies to have any positive effect in the battle of laughs versus eye-rolls, such as Carla’s relationship with Ty and the ironic presentation of these two characters in a ‘beautiful, ‘romantic’ relationship serving as the joke.
Maudlin, not quite Christmassy
Playing that whole scenario as a serious connection provides some laughs and one hell of a line about the Dalai Lama that’ll probably elicit more gasps than laughs. I mentioned earlier that the first one never went into totally serious territory with jokes always being thrown in for a good measure of jokes and advancing the plot but there’s a handful of scenes in A Bad Moms Christmas where things get as sappy as the average Adam Sandler flick.
Finally, it’s hard to be really get into the spirit of Yuletide after seeing this mild letdown, but the film’s release almost two months prior to Christmas further contributes to its lack of inherent festive vibes normally carried by Christmas-themed films.
A Bad Moms Christmas: Conclusion
Wilder but not better, A Bad Moms Christmas is a mediocre bridge between the original film and the inevitable Bad Grandmas, with stale jokes that lift the film away from reality and the potential of biting satire, that made the first such a joy to watch, to something more uninspired. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas with this inferior gift, but Baranski, Hines and Sarandon promise it’ll be better next time.
What did you think of Bad Moms? Are you interested in seeing Bad Grandmas?
A Bad Moms Christmas is out now in US and UK cinemas. To see global release dates, click here.
Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.