When I saw the poster for Bad Moms, I looked at the characters and started to guess which clichéd character they’d play. Mila Kunis was the main mom, the most normal of the group; Kristen Bell was the innocent, cute mom who loves pink and says cute-dumb things; Kathryn Hahn was the abrasive, skanky mom who wears leopard print clothing; Christina Applegate was the stuck-up, prude mom who would try to stop all the fun; and Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo would be her cronies, with one of them having nothing of value to say but sassy comebacks (Smith), and the other being a total dimwit (Mumolo). Although I felt superior for nailing the labels of the characters, when I actually watched the movie, I couldn’t help but feel a sudden, ego-stabbing sense of surprise.
Oh, not because I was wrong about the labels. I was right on the money about all that. But what surprised me was that as the plot progressed, the expectation of pure, lame-duck debauchery we have come to expect from the worn “Bad” series of films (Bad Grandpa, Bad Teacher, Bad Santa, and now Bad Moms) never really happened. Instead, the movie could’ve been named Liberated Moms or Rebelling Moms, as less time was spent making crude jokes and spewing constant f-bombs, and more, not only challenging the traditional confines of motherhood, but also that of American life. But don’t worry, here are still lots of crude jokes and f-bombs. Mustn’t forget the f-bombs.
As an overworked mother
having to deal with an overbearing PTA president (Applegate), a dipshit husband, and everyone’s expectation that it is simply her “duty” as a mom to bear everything, Amy (Kunis) decides she’s tired of having no time for herself. She takes matters into her own hands saying, “F*ck it, ‘imma do me.” She then proceeds, with the accompaniment of Kiki (Bell) and Carla (Hahn), to do things for herself like, *gasp*, sleep in late and eat what she wants. Oh, if those ’50s-era Republicans aren’t rolling in their Dracula coffins now…
This may seem tame to those who are expecting lots of weed jokes, dildos, and hard-partying, but the women’s simple acts of rebellion speak more powerfully than any jokes could have. They eat lunch together while their kids are at school, go to the movies, use uncensored language, make their kids act independently, drive fast cars, and beat up the cardboard cut-out of the perky blonde at the grocery store. They’re just taking a much needed break. They aren’t actually becoming bad moms; they are just doing things that, in someone less sympathetic’s eyes, would classify them as “bad moms.”
See, we live in a world where unless you are constantly working as an adult or stressing out about tests and extracurricular activities as a child (perfectly embodied in Amy’s daughter, played by Oona Laurence), then you’re a non-contributing slacker. But as we continue to stress out about all of these things that we think will make our lives better—like work, school, and helping others
—we forget to actually live our lives.
Enter the sexy, brash behavior of these hilarious moms. Sure, alone they may not be funny, but when Amy, Kiki, and Carla get together, they prove that females can truly lead an R-rated, filthy-minded comedy—a genre that is usually reserved for the men. In many ways, the women do it even better, with Hahn fully embracing her characters sex craving, crass dynamo, and Bell doing an excellent job of not taking the “innocent, cute mom” act overboard. The women spit and embrace crass one-liners with natural gusto. There is one standout scene in particular wherein Amy and Carla manhandle an uncomfortable Kiki like a dummy whilst teaching Amy what to do if she encounters an uncircumcised penis. Those instances are when the subtle, graceful depravity of the actresses shine.
As the women continue to embrace themselves with a much needed break from motherhood, an emotional bond develops between Amy and her daughter, Jane, that makes this a true “mom movie”, without any of the Lifetime Original Movie, Tori Spelling-barfathon sappiness. Amy, through impassioned arguments with Jane, comes to an understanding that though it’s necessary to take a break every now and again, you must still tend to your very real responsibilities. Being a good mom is about being there for your kids, and then maybe smoking weed once they’re gone.
Sadly, much of this ‘challenging-the-norm’ leads to a battle between Amy and PTA president Gwendolyn, which means Amy MUST challenge and defeat Gwendolyn for the conveniently upcoming PTA president elections. Whatever progressive attitudes the movie embraces, this obnoxiously clichéd climax brings the story down a few pegs. Just when I thought I was watching a movie I have never seen before, the plot reminds me that every angel needs a demon, and this movie’s demon is a predictable conflict-resolution.
But, if you can suffer through the insufferable blonde-versus-rebellious-brunette outer layer, there is a unique, gloriously-filthy
center to Bad Moms. The movie conveys a much needed message: You are not a bad person for wanting to take a break from life, simply because that’s the only way you will actually live your life. And if wanting to do that does make you a bad mom, then everyone is a bad mom, and being a bad mom is awesome.