I’ve been sitting at my laptop for about 15 minutes trying to figure out a clever way to open my review of Bad Moms. I’ll just be completely honest - I do not have one. Bad Moms is one of the worst movies I have ever seen (that makes two 2016 films to make that list for those keeping track). It’s disappointing too, because I like the vast majority of the cast. When you line up funny women but there is no script, the result cannot be anything but tragic.
Mila Kunis plays Amy. She has a part time job that requires her to put in full time effort. On top of that, she is trying to be a super mom to the two kids she had way too young with a husband she doesn’t even really like all that much anymore.
After discovering her husband’s online affair, Amy loses it. She decides to become a bad mom, shirking work and PTA responsibilities. This inspires stay at home mother-of-four Kiki (Frozen’s Kristin Bell) to do the same. They are joined by the school’s long established bad mom Carla (Parks & Rec’s Kathryn Hahn) and begin a new life of day drinking, driving fast and swearing. It’s rebellion for the mom that considers "Fifty Shades of Grey" to be erotic.
All of this doesn’t sit well with the head of the PTA (Christina Applegate) for some unexplained reason, so she sets out to make life hell for Amy’s children. This results in a showdown at the next PTA election, because you know how movies like to mirror the life of every woman! How many of you gals hasn’t this happened to?
The plot is strung together loosely, which for me isn’t a major problem with comedies so long as the jokes are landing. The jokes rarely land in Bad Moms. Punch lines are replaced with Kathryn Hahn shouting about her lady parts or extended dance scenes that feature Kunis grabbing the camera and shaking her head to show us how much fun all of the action is.
Here’s a rule to remember. If you go to the theater and see a poster for a movie titled “Bad [insert job here]” just assume it is going to be garbage. Now, there have been exceptions to that rule (see Bad Santa), but think back on these movies. Did you like Bad Teacher? How about Bad Grandpa? If you answered yes, either you’re lying or we just aren’t meant to be friends.
Finally, I want to address my biggest pet peeve with comedies in the 21st century. Bad Moms doesn’t have jokes but it’s got more cameos than you can shake a stick at! Martha Stewart shows up to talk about starting her day with Jell-o shots (See, it’s funny because she’s so proper!). Wanda Sykes shows up as a straight-talking marriage counselor (See, it’s funny because she’s so sassy and marriage-counselors aren’t supposed to act like that!). And NFL star JJ Watt shows up as a middle school girls soccer coach that is obsessed with cats (He’s so much fun, you guys!).
This summer’s female-centric Ghostbusters reboot has been talked about as a hallmark for women in comedy. It’s not. Women have been funny for a long time. Bad Moms is a hallmark for comedy. The hall? The walkway to hell. The mark? A giant scary painted middle finger to anyone that paid money to see this movie.
Demetri Ravanos is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has reviewed movies for Raleigh and Company, Military1.com and The Alan Kabel Radio Network.