Directed by: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
Written by: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon
As a kid, the holidays could not have been more perfect. You’re off from school, eat plenty of food, and basically do none of the work depending on the circumstance, of course. The same cannot be said for mothers, as they’re typically the ones creating all of the magic without any of the praise, which allows the women of A Bad Moms Christmas to unload the alcohol once again and stick up their middle fingers to these pressures.
Having to do too much already, Amy (Mila Kunis) wants to create a calm Christmas festivity for her family, when suddenly her mother, Ruth (Christine Baranski) arrives and demands to throw an extravagant party. Similarly, the other mothers, Kiki (Kirsten Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) get visits from their respective mothers, Sandy (Cheryl Hines) and Isis (Susan Sarandon).
I’ll never forget the moment sitting in one of my history courses in college when we neared Thanksgiving. My male professor spoke about Thanksgiving and how it ranked as his favorite holiday, when one of the students, who happened to be an adult learner and had her own kids, scoffed and stated, “Sure, for you.” It became a funny moment for me to cherish, but also a reminder that the holiday season means different things for everyone. We never know anyone’s life but there’s a good chance that my professor loved Thanksgiving so much because he probably just watched football and got fed food all day, while the student who scoffed needed to do all of the work for her family. Her dismissiveness to his love for the holiday popped into my head when I watched A Bad Moms Christmas, and even though this sequel is a downgrade, it still brought plenty of laughs.
Just as Amy, Kiki, and Carla learned to adjust how they mother their children, this film brings in their mothers to learn a similar lesson. It does not take long to learn the issues our protagonists had with their own mothers growing up with Ruth being too harsh, Sandy smothers, and Isis was never around for support. It all comes together for one of the more stressful holidays of the year. The one where mothers need to ensure their kids have a magical time with the presents on their wishlist, only to give all the credit to some guy in a red suit. It feels appropriate that following the first Bad Moms that this holiday would be highlighted, as it serves as the beast of all festivities.
The three actors portraying the mothers of the protagonist all brought their own quirk to the role, which made their interactions walk the fine line of funny and infuriating. Just like with many families, the writers showed how Amy, Kiki, and Carla resemble their mothers at some points because you know how that apple and tree saying goes. Their mothers just happen to be the extreme version of it.
A Bad Moms Christmas brings freshness with its premise but the jokes suffer a bit as it follows the same beats of the first film with its slow-motion blow-off and a quick-paced song in the background. With the holiday they chose, there could have been much more they highlighted and ridiculed but everything felt rather tame this time around. It left me in a place of enjoying the idea behind the film more than its actual execution. Some of the jokes certainly landed but it didn’t have a strong bite to it, which surprised me. That does not take away from the performances by Mila Kunis, Kirsten Bell, and Kathryn Hahn, who have built a great rapport with each other utilizing these characters. They create such a great combination of personalities that mesh well together despite their differences. That makes the introduction of the mothers all the more fun, as it peels back another layer of these women and where they come from.
As with most sequels, A Bad Moms Christmas fails to measure up but still delivers some fun moments to enjoy. Whether they’re jumping at Skyzone or at a Sexy Santa contest, this film has joy and wraps it up with a good message about celebrating the holidays. It’s different for everyone and there does not need to be this perfect celebration for kids to enjoy those days because spending time with family has always been the point. As we all do at times, some of the characters forget that message and it takes the rest of the feature for them to be reminded.