Bad Moms 2
Jacob Richardson | 06/11/2017
An ultimately unrewarding film that throws out everything unique and fun about the original and replaces it with a stocking stuffed full of under-written, disinteresting and manufactured familial tension.
Reuniting Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn), Bad Moms 2 is set at Christmas; apparently the apocalypse for overwrought mothers who are continuously put upon by their children, partners and wider families. After a particularly rowdy shopping mall trip, the titular trio vow to spend Christmas actually enjoying themselves for once; taking a more relaxed approach to the holiday than they have previously done. Alas, all their best laid plans are thrown into disarray when their mothers arrive; bringing with them childhood trauma, inappropriate boundary crossing and a desire to ruin their daughters ‘relaxed Christmas’.
Directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (who also penned this sequel and the original) fail to engage with these characters in the way that they did in the first outing. We’re never really shown the true horrors of Christmas for mothers, given instead a montage overlaid with VO that makes it seem like they are rushing through this needless set up to get to the ‘hilarious antics’ of reuniting each lead with their nightmare mother. It’s a shame, because one of the most impressive things about the first movie was the way in which it was filled with endearing insights into the behaviour of our own parents, shining a light on the fact that our mothers aren’t superheroes, even though they act like them.
Bad Moms 2 focuses too much on a middling family-home-for-Christmas formula that sucks any interest or enjoyment from the bad mother behaviour. Indeed, aside from one extensive scene where the three moms sexually harass a Santa Claus, it appears almost as if the only ‘bad’ behaviour is the egregious and ever-present use of slow motion.
That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of joy. Susan Sarandon is spectacular as Carla’s hard-drinking, hard-partying mother, and there is a hilarious scene involving a hunky stripper, Carla, and ball-waxing. Peter Gallagher’s portrayal of Hank, Amy’s put upon father, is also incredibly funny, with a mid-credits scene of his attempted stripping one of the funniest in the film. It’s not the loss of these funny moments that makes the film falter, though. It’s the lack of a strong through story.
We’ve seen this lacklustre family fall-out and reconciliation theme before. Without the presence of some truly ‘bad’ behaviour, it’s just another Christmas film; except, with 6 characters needing almost equal screen-time and with very little crossover, which results in an overstuffed turkey of a film.
Bad Moms 2 is a misguided departure from what made the first film so much fun. It takes itself too seriously, falling upon old, tired story-lines and, in doing so, losing itself.