In the pursuit of being funny, Bad Moms completely wastes its opportunity to address the issues of trying to be the perfect mom, while still having some fun.
TV Viewing (On The Fence Review)
Characters Worth Noting
Amy (Mila Kunis) | Carla (Kathryn Hahn) | Kiki (Kristen Bell) | Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) | Jane (Oona Laurence)
Main Storyline (with Commentary)
With a slightly deadbeat husband, Amy is forced to be supermom. She takes her kids to school, picks them up, cooks, cleans, works three days out of the week, part-time, and goes to PTA. All of this is pretty stressful for even with her not working all day every day, her kids are a bit entitled and spoiled. Her son is skating by while Amy does his homework and while Jane isn’t like her brother when it comes to academics, she is so worried about getting into a good school she is about to have anxiety attacks. All the while, despite doing everything she can, Jane wonders if it is enough? Is she a good mom?
Well, according to Gwendolyn, no. There is more she can do, more time she can take up sacrificing for her kids, and after a certain point, Amy says enough. Carla, probably the only true definition of a bad mom, joins her and Kiki, a stay at home mom who basically has nothing to do but raise her kids, she joins in too. Granted, none of her kids are middle school aged, but she needs to be around people she can actually have a conversation with.
Thus leading to a film which starts off with a mom who does anything and everything for her kids who decides to dial it back, drastically, and eventually find a right balance. Alongside that, she realizes her husband she just might not be in love with anymore, she makes new friends, and said new friends, perhaps being inspired by Amy, get their lives together. Be it taking motherhood more seriously or having a life outside of being a mom.
Let me begin by saying little Oona Laurence probably is the best child actor out there. This film isn’t going to win any major awards, but the girl brought it as if this was a serious movie about the difficulties of motherhood and she was going to match everything the adult actors gave. Kudos to her.
Besides Laurence though, you do have to give it to the writers and the adult actresses. For while the jokes usually fell flat, when the movie tiered toward a more serious side, when there were conversations about guilt, the role of a mother in a family, trying to have a life outside the kids, and things of that nature, this movie is good. I mean, not award winning good, but it does have the potential to make you cry. I mean, I think most of the actresses in this movie have kids, and when they talk about their on-screen kids, even Carla who probably talks about the next time she’ll have sex more than her kid, there is a twinkling in their eyes and oh god it just seems so genuine. For, at the heart of the film, it is about what moms are willing to do in order to make their children happy.
Though that isn’t all this movie offers. Also, it is about mom’s making themselves happy, feeling fulfilled, and acknowledging that you can’t do it all, you can’t be everywhere, and you have to accept that. Gwendolyn, for all her faults, is another woman trying to hold it together as her family goes through something. That isn’t conveyed to the end, which makes her character seem shallow and cartoony as hell, but this section isn’t about the low points.
What I want you to take from this, though, is there seems to be a genuine attempt to have the actors emulate real people, real situations, and real feelings. It is just once the movie tries to be funny, it feels very forced. Let’s start with Carla.
Oh, but before I forget, I must also say I really liked the credits having a conversation with the actresses and their mother. Though it got me more frustrated about how the movie could have turned out. But what you expect when a movie is written by two dudes.
You know, when it comes to comedy I feel there are Rebel Wilsons and Melissa McCarthys. Wilson will force a joke and through sheer awkwardness, it can be funny. McCarthy though, she tries to get her timing down, land the line or fall right, so she gets the good, hearty, big laugh. This film though is more geared toward a Rebel Wilson. However, Wilson can at least get an awkward laugh. With this movie, it is only funny when it seems like they weren’t really trying to be funny. Otherwise, it is basically a bunch of jokes about private parts and some cursing thrown in to try to make a joke raunchy. Most of the time it doesn’t work to the point this feels like an SNL Digital Short which doesn’t know when to end.
Leading to perhaps the real problem of this film: It would have done better to try to be a dramedy than a comedy with dramatic moments. Let’s take Gwendolyn for example. Her family is in chaos due to her husband embezzling money and so PTA was perhaps the one stable thing in her life. To me, that could have been brought up in the beginning and Amy could have remained the same, trying to have the PTA be less like a mob and something which overworks everyone and the two could have still went head to head. To me, that would have made the would-be villain seem more human. Heck, if they would have had her minions convey their own family issues earlier on, they wouldn’t seem like the sassy black friend and the dumb one.
It doesn’t end there, though. I do believe if the tone was set to a dramedy, it would make even the whole “Non-sexy bra” joke, which Bell just had to deal with in her last movie, a bit better. I mean, what I guess I’m trying to say is, while there is nothing wrong with what they are joking about when it comes to motherhood, I wish the tone was grounded in the seriousness, or rather difficulty of it, and the jokes were geared in a “laugh to keep from crying” sort of way. Rather than have an almost Girl Meets World type of unevenness where it seems like once they get their footing on handling the more serious moments, they try for funny again and often fail.