Amy (Mila Kunis) is the mother of two and the part-time sales executive at a hipster coffee company. Her marriage to Mike (Brad Walton) has seen better days and because she is always multi-tasking for three other people, she is never on time for her job, nor any of her kids’ many extra-curricular activities. To make matters worse, at her children’s school, she runs into numerous problems with a fearsome trio of perfectionist PTA moms led by Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate). After a particularly terrible day, in which she fails to achieve any of the goals of a “good” mother, Amy makes a life-changing decision, she is going to be a Bad Mom.
This involves Amy befriending two other women who don’t reach the exacting standards of maternal perfection, Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn). Kiki has four small children and is somewhat under the thumb of her controlling husband. Carla is the mother of an older, jockish boy. She is always ready to party. Amy, Kiki and Carla flip the script and begin breaking out of their over-scheduled, over-worked routine. This eventually brings them head to head with Gwendolyn and her offsiders, Stacy (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Vicki (Annie Mumolo).
BAD MOMS runs with the idea that the expectation on mothers, both from society, and from themselves, is a crushing burden that saps all the joy and spontaneity from the lives of these women and eventually affects the happiness of their children. Co-directors and co-writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore expertly disguise this notion. The comedy is front and centre, but the basic premise is never lost. Lucas and Moore are best known for their work on THE HANGOVER trilogy, the Jason Bateman/Ryan Reynolds comedy THE CHANGE-UP, as well as their uncredited re-writes for WEDDING CRASHERS, 27 DRESSES, MONSTER-IN-LAW and MR WOODCOCK.
The story is well paced, and although there is gag sequence after gag sequence, the emotional foundations of the movie are secure. These women never become parodies of mothers despite all the high jinks. The preview audience I saw this with, skewed female and the laughs came hard and often. Our Bad Mom trio have a similar vibe to the heroes from HORRIBLE BOSSES; they’re middle class and middle-of-the-road but suddenly out of their depth. And there is also a streak of MEAN GIRLS running through. Gwendolyn’s crew are basically a middle-aged version of The Plastics.
This is a top-of-the-line, well-crafted comedy with plenty of R-rated gags. The writing is on point and the performances are very good indeed. Kathryn Hahn is undoubtedly the Most Valuable Player, but Applegate’s Gwendolyn is a subtle monster. Having said that, BAD MOMS is decidedly good-hearted for a movie that revels in the f-word and penis jokes.
BAD MOMS runs for 100 minutes and is in wide release all around the wide, brown land. (7/10)