Bad Moms is too maudlin for its raunchy convictions, and too coarse to be morally-decent, it’s a meddling, frustratingly indecisive lowbrow R-rated comedy that severely lacks the wit, charm and endearing characters found in writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s winning script for The Hangover. Formulaic when it needs to be button-pushing, and mild when it needs to be mean, it’s not ill-natured like it wants to be. Rather, it’s ill-advised and ill-conceived.
Amy (Mila Kunis) is an overburdened, undervalued suburban mother of two on the verge of a breakdown. Her kids don’t appreciate her hard work. Her husband is a lazy slob in a ten-month online affair. Her boss (Clark Duke) is an incompetent blowhard. And now PTA leader Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) is forcing Amy to commit overtime under bullshit health restrictions and meaningless tasks. Amy is tired, fed up and ready to speak out her mind. If she can’t be a good mom, she’s going to become a bad one. And she’s not alone.
Carla (Kathryn Hahn), a promiscuous single mom, and Kiki (Kristen Bell), a sheltered mother of five, are both inspired by Amy’s enlightenment and become “Bad Moms” themselves. They vandalise grocery stores, they see movies in the afternoon, they drive excessive sports cars. They even skip PTA meetings, obviously. And Gwendolyn, alongside fellow mothers Stacy (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Vicky (Annie Mumolo), won’t stand to watch them go wild. It’s Good Moms vs. Bad Moms, with the school board’s fate put on the line. There are no winners, only losers.
While the Bad [Blank] comedy phase died out well before 2007, there’s sneering, ball-busting potential in Bad Moms. Seeing moms cut loose and stripping their inhibitions could produce something as cutting and hilariously crass as Bad Santa under the right lens, but Moore and Lucas aren’t as deft and astute as Terry Zwigoff. Their visual presentation is bland, overlit and oversaturated, relying more on overused slow-mo shots than anything interesting or funny. The three leads look like they’re enjoying themselves immensely, as do Applegate, Smith, Mumolo and Kunis’ love interest Jay Hernandez, but their material is toothless and shapeless. Bell fairs the best of the bunch. Her delivery is dry and pointed in a movie that’s otherwise inconsistent and unspecific, but even her funniest only earn a mild chuckle.
It’s flat and lifeless when it should be inspired and sharp, and its forced message only drags it down further. Its over-reliance on improv is another problem. Perhaps Lucas and Moore only had one good script. They’ve retreaded the same tired material for years, and their diminishing returns leads to yet another unenthused effort. Even The Change-Up and 21 and Over felt more original. Uninspired, tepid and aimless, Bad Moms is just plain bad.