Movie News & Reviews

Female audiences deserve better than ‘Bad Moms Christmas’

From left, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn star in “A Bad Moms Christmas.”
From left, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn star in “A Bad Moms Christmas.” STX Entertainment

In “A Bad Moms Christmas,” it’s double the moms, double the bad.

Last time around, the “Bad Moms” were a trio of Wine Moms — Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) — letting loose with some shots while letting go of perfectionism.

Now their moms — Ruth (Christine Baranski), Sandy (Cheryl Hines) and Isis (Susan Sarandon) — are in town for the holidays, and we’ve got a cornucopia of naughty mommies.

The existential plight of the Wine Mom — who seeks relief from the crushing weight of the capitalist patriarchy at the bottom of a chardonnay bottle — is a real cultural crisis. Someone should shine a light on this, but co-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore are not those storytellers. One has to wonder if Lucas and Moore have ever even met a woman. These characters are cartoonish and campy, categorized by their attributes: Stressy, Crazy, Slutty, Critical, Clingy and Drifter.

Amy is always harried. She’s divorced with a couple of kids that she warily apprises, as if she’s not sure who they are or why they’re in her house. She shares the same chemistry with Baranski and Peter Gallagher, who play her parents, treating them like wayward strangers.

With her gal pals, it’s all forced fun, loud laughing and declarations of “Let’s take back Christmas!”

“Bad Moms” seemed to spring from a single inspirational scene, with the rest of the movie written around it (moms going crazy at a house party). “A Bad Moms Christmas” takes the same approach. So when the “twerking on Santa” sequence is over within the first 10 minutes, the film is adrift, filled with tedious male stripper material. It’s the “Bad Moms” Meet “Magic Mike” Holiday Extravaganza, only with ghastly dancing.

Baranski is wonderfully sharp as the monstrous Type A 1 percenter Ruth, and she does get a few great lines. Hines is delightfully surreal as the overprotective Sandy. Hahn is the best around, but you can’t help but scream, “This is beneath you!” almost every moment she’s on screen.

What’s offensive about “A Bad Moms Christmas” is how shoddily made it is. Female audiences deserve better movies than this. Furthermore, it positions the enemies of moms as other moms — not the rigidly gendered social structures and expectations that demand women do the majority of the domestic and emotional labor. Rather than men or money being the enemy, it’s other women, and that’s not fair. Here’s to hoping for “A Bad Moms Revolution” as the final installment.

Movie review

‘Bad Moms Christmas’

Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some drug use. 1:44. AMC Classic, Fayette, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester.

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