When you release a movie called Bad Moms, you’ve declared a connection to an entire sub-genre of “Bad” films. Bad Santa, Bad Teacher, Bad Grandpa (Dirty Grandpa), Bad Lieutenant, Bad Boys, Bad Girls, Badlands, Superbad, Very Bad Things — etc. That means, at the very least, you’ve taken an unspoken pledge to depict some bad behavior. And yet about the most “bad” thing Mila Kunis’ character does in Bad Moms is spill food on herself. This makes Bad Moms at best dull and at worst offensive. I mean, what should we make of the fact that a “bad” Santa, according to Hollywood, commits armed robbery, adultery, sodomy, identity theft, and child abuse, while a “bad” mom swears and is sometimes late to soccer practice?
Okay, let’s say for the sake of argument that it’s unfair to compare Bad Moms to any other films with “Bad” in the title. On these terms, it’s just trite and saccharine, somehow both not believable and depressingly mundane, especially for those of us who don’t have kids but someday want to. Bad Moms was clearly intended to hit home for parents, judging by the packed screening audience of moms, who seemed to have been bussed in for that purpose. They seemed to be having a great time. “Can you believe we’re about to see a movie that isn’t animated?” one behind me kept saying to anyone who would listen, just before the movie started. I concede, reality can be trite too.
Look, I got friends with kids, lots of them. It’s not that us singles can never be interested in your new-parent gripes. It’s just that it’s easier when they aren’t the same gripes we’ve heard 12 trillion times already. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Mila Kunis’ character, Amy, is overworked and underpaid, her children are overscheduled and undergrateful, the other moms are judgy and competitive, and dealing with her husband is almost like dealing with another child. (She actually spells this out in a voiceover, as if we couldn’t be trusted to understand the world’s oldest sitcom plot point without the hand holding.) Also, the schools are banning peanut butter now! Have you seen this? Have you heard about this? Amy’s marriage has become largely sexless, and her husband has compensated with a virtual relationship with some kind of internet cam model that’s gone on for 10 months. The twist in Bad Moms is that they actually show the naked cam model, and her “giant bush.”