Monday, October 24, 2016

Bad Moms

If I were a mom, I would whip out the duct tape every time my kid talked back to me - which is probably why I'll never be a mom.  (You're welcome, non-existent children.)  Although, according to the R-rated comedy Bad Moms, even the seemingly perfect moms don't always know how to best handle their kids, or their lives.  As the movie creates an atmosphere ripe for laughter and fun, Bad Moms touches on the overstressed perfectionism of modern motherhood that can make any woman crack from the pressure.

(source: Wikipedia)

Mila Kunis plays Amy, a woman who opens the film with a montage of her chauffeuring her kids around, working at an office full of young people, crying to herself in her car, and dealing with her deadbeat husband.  Said husband turns out to be cheating on her by having Skype-sex with a naked dairy farmer.  I have to give credit for the affair's originality, as strange as it was.  Amy's world continues to crumble until she snubs President Gwendolyn James at the PTA meeting.  Fed up, Amy recruits Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) to join her in a bad mom rebellion.  They engage in teenager-style abandon, and Amy tells her kids and her young boss that they have to take care of some things themselves.

Although the title and synopsis give off vibes of reckless irresponsibility, the movie is careful to offset Amy's self-liberation with her continued devotion to her family.  She may not do their homework or make breakfast, but she takes her daughter out to a spa, gets her kids where they need to go, and eventually runs for PTA president to defend her daughter.  She might have given up on being the "perfect" mom, but she never loses her mom-ness.  That actually serves for some of the movie's best comedic moments (i.e. the mom bra) and the most emotional moments as well.

On occasion, Bad Moms stretches reality a little far.  The PTA is presented as a mega influence that determines everything from standardized tests to teacher hires/fires, which sounds more like a school board than a group of parents.  Gwendolyn James, PTA President, is the blond Queen Bee that you have seen in every high school movie ever.  She possesses an unreasonable amount of long-windedness, arrogance, and pettiness that made me forget that I was watching adults rather than teens competing for prom court.  Additionally, some of the jokes surrounding her were so over-the-top that they fell flat (such as Gwendolyn naming one of her pasty-faced kids Ghandi).  As far as characters go, Gwendolyn was the weakest.

However, I adored Mila Kunis as the main character.  She had the same non-apologetic, snarky vibe that I remembered from her performance in Friends with Benefits with Justin Timberlake.  She formed a funny, dynamic trio with Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn that carried the movie with lighthearted buoyancy.  Eventually all three to learn to modify their behavior to preserve their independence (and sanity) while taking care of their families.  Amy and Carla have particularly touching moments with their children.  The moms' biggest takeaway is that they do not have to be so hard on themselves - a message that everyone in an overworked world needs to hear these days.  I appreciated hearing that even if society expects a lot from me as a woman, I have the right to self-care.

My favorite part of Bad Moms comes during the credits.  Each of the actresses are sitting with their real-life mothers as their mothers recall their "bad mom" moments and reveal their insecurities as they raised their daughters.  After all the hilarious and relatable stories are through, all the actresses affirm that they had a wonderful childhood and embrace their mothers.  The official site for the movie features other submissions from moms who have had epic and not-so-epic fails.  Even the most "perfect" of us often don't know what we're doing, because we're human and we fail.  A lot.  Bad Moms offers a helpful reminder of that while still giving its audience a rowdy good time.

If you're interested in seeing Bad Moms for yourself, it's available here in digital HD and will be released on DVD November 1.

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