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Bad Moms (2016) Review

"Mila Kunis shines in the starring role"

by Steve Pulaski

Watch Steve's Video Review below.

There are numerous books, blogs, and even TV programs that try to elaborate on the massive period of many women's lives known as "motherhood," where anything and everything centers around their son or daughter. I'm sure many mothers would argue that it is less a period and more a lifelong commitment; once you are a mother, there's never a point where you're not a mother or move on from bearing those characteristics. With that, it's difficult to find a film that really profiles the struggle and tumultuous nature of motherhood in the modern world, let alone one that gives it a healthy dose of humanity and some playful satirization.

Finally, Bad Moms is that film, and even with the mind and formula of your average raunchy comedy, it manages to hit a lot of points about motherhood that I've often wondered myself. How difficult is it to work a job while trying to cater to your children when your husband is less than helpful, all while going above and beyond to bus your children places and still have time to cook, clean, and help with their homework. While Bad Moms still embellishes a very glamorous side of motherhood (IE: profiling white, able, and attractive women), it nonetheless addresses the difficulties of it all while having a lot of fun in the meantime.

The film revolves around Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis), who got pregnant and married her husband (David Walton) at the age of twenty in the midst of having her first child. Now, she's approaching her thirties with a son, a daughter, and a lackadaisical husband, all of whom she supports with her part-time gig at the headquarters of a millennial-run coffeeshop. Amy does it all, from fixing her kids nutritious lunches, attending PTA meetings, and driving them to all their demanding and expensive after school activities, and she hits her breaking point after a considerably rough day. She tells PTA President Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and the fellow moms at the meeting the same day that she is done trying to be the perfectionist mother who does it all and does no wrong.

Bad Moms
Directed by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Cast Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell
Release Date 29 July 2016
Steve's Grade: B+

Later that day, she meets a promiscuous single mom named Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and a worn-out stay-at-home-mom named Kiki (Kristen Bell) at a bar, both of whom massively agree with her expressed sentiments about the difficulties of being a mom. The three strike up a troublesome triangle of friendship predicated upon the desire to be "bad moms," moms who care just enough to get by, but little enough as to where they can have fun and enjoy themselves while they are still young.

Eventually, Amy develops the gall and desire to challenge the unopposed Gwendolyn for the forthcoming election of the new PTA president. While Gwendolyn runs on a strict, better-our-children-by-bettering-and-perfecting-ourselves platform, Amy's far more lenient, "be imperfect" motto resonates with many moms during one wild night of cheap wine and music at Amy's house.

Bad Moms brings a lot of keen satire to the picture of moms, profiling the different types of moms in a way that's respectful but brings out the caricature qualities of them all. While ostensibly mean-spirited, the writing/directing team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (who also wrote and directed the party film 21 & Over a few years back) always set their hearts on doing justice the good intentions of these women, never crossing lines that shortchange them or make their noble, often selfless contributions go unnoticed.

But a great part of the film's success is attributable to its cast; Mila Kunis shines in the starring role here, finally given a role she can breathe and flex her comedic and dramatic muscles in, something she hasn't really been able to do since Friends with Benefits. She's front and center here, assisted by the perky and warm Kristen Bell and the rambunctious, absolutely wonderful Kathryn Hahn, who's free-spirit presents a nice contrast between all the characters. Finally, Christina Applegate also does strong work as playing the truly contemptible villain of the film, who the filmmakers still dare to humanize and paint as a deeper, more realized character before the credits roll.

The sweet intentions of Bad Moms as a film can really be fully seen during the closing credits, where Kunis, Bell, Hahn, Applegate, and other costars like Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo talk to their real-life mothers about their childhoods, parenting styles, and how they specifically viewed motherhood then and now. It's a thoughtful, totally unexpected add-on to a film that, despite being helmed by males, clearly gets a lot of inspiration from its leading actresses and personal lives as well, all while gift-wrapping it in a delightfully coarse, bawdy package.

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