By my count there are at least a half-dozen things the women in A Bad Moms Christmas do that would get normal (not in the movies, that is) people arrested. From public pot-smoking in broad daylight to stealing a mall Christmas tree to faking a charity in order to con people out of their groceries, there’s not much that’s redeeming about the trio of Kiki (Kristen Bell), Amy (Mila Kunis), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn). And then there’s the cute little girl who drops the f-bomb with reckless abandon.
Introduced in 2016’s Bad Moms, the wild-n-crazy ladies are back now for round two, this time with their respective mothers (Cheryl Hines as Sandy, Christine Baranski as Ruth, and Susan Sarandon a Isis) all coincidentally arriving in town at the same time to share the holidays with their unwelcoming daughters. Each of the mom’s moms have their own particular quirk; Sandy is very clingy, Ruth is a domineering perfectionist, and Isis (“like the terrorist organization”, she’s oddly pleased to say) gambles too much.
As with the original film, Christmas actually does have some funny bits, and, judging from the whoops and guffaws from the women in the crowd, it’s the best goofball comedy aimed at anyone lacking a y-chromosome to hit screens in a while, but it’s also very hard to shake the feeling (perhaps because it’s true) that this sequel is a slap-dash money grab thrown together quickly to none-too-subtly cater to the under-served “mom crowd”.
Is that a bad thing? Apparently not. Its opening weekend take has already covered the budget of the film, and it also beat out the opening weekend of the original movie. But would it have killed writer-directors Scott Moore and Jon Lucas (The Hangover) to not only create some decent characters, but stop going for a quick, cheap (and raunchy) laugh, and/or vary the plot at least a teeny bit from the original Bad Moms?
Hahn is the only member of the cast who seems to be enjoying herself (and, man, does she enjoy herself); Kunis and Bell simply coast along, and their moms are all so one-note that they quickly grow tedious to watch (blame the script, not the actresses). Pay no attention to the men in the movie, who are either pushed so far into the background as to be useless (Amy’s live-in boyfriend Jesse), inexplicably forgotten for entire scenes (Ruth’s husband Hank), or relegated to being just a half-naked exotic dancer (Carla’s new beau Ty). The kids are even more pointless; Amy’s teenagers occasionally nod and smile, and Carla’s kid is played off as perhaps a bit mentally challenged. Funny, huh?
But perhaps I’m being too Grinchy. (See the aforementioned “whoops and guffaws”.) There are indeed a decent handful of laugh-out-loud moments, and I’m sure repeat viewings will become a holiday staple for a good many people. But it’s hard to get overly excited about a movie that tries to draw laughs by just having a 10-year-old say the f-word over and over again.