Review: A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)

Bad Moms hit theaters at the end of July last year. The film was a successful comedy, grossing more than expected, and being pretty hilarious with its gratuitously raunchy humor. Because of its success, it was announced in December that we’d be getting a Bad Moms sequel, and on May 1st, principle photography began. That’s right, May. A Bad Moms Christmas was made in eleven months’ time, with five of those months being post-production. It’s not unusual for a sequel like this to be produced on a conveyor belt, but this assembly line was moving abnormally quickly. When a movie is cranked out this quickly, it is almost always destined to be terrible. What’s strange, though, is that A Bad Moms Christmas is actually reasonably entertaining.

Oh Santa

A Bad Moms Christmas picks up the December after the events of the first film. Our favorite bad moms, Amy, Kiki, and Carla, are feeling the pressure of the Christmas season: decorating, cooking, shopping, wrapping gifts, and trying to make everything perfect. The decide to rebel just like they did in the first film, and after getting drunk and giving a mall Santa Claus a lap dance, they vow not to succumb to the pressure of the holiday season. To the surprise of them all, each of their mothers decide to show up for Christmas. The bad moms must learn how to deal with their own bad mothers and their annoying traits – Carla’s mom’s habit of only returning when she needs money, Kiki’s mom’s clinginess, and Amy’s mom’s wealthy determination to make everything perfect.

The first and very best thing about A Bad Moms Christmas is the cast. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn of course return to their roles as Amy, Kiki, and Carla. Kunis serves as the same boring protagonist she was in the first film, but Bell and Hahn keep their characters fresh and funny. The contrast of these two is fantastic, with Bell’s humor being rooted in subtlety and Hahn’s completely focused on being over-the-top. Just like in the first movie, Kathryn Hahn often proves to be too much, even to the point of annoyance. That being said, Hahn does have some truly hilarious moments in A Bad Moms Christmas.

Christine Baranski commands every scene she’s in

The single thing that might have made this film as entertaining as it was is who they cast to play the bad moms’ moms. Susan Sarandon plays Isis (Hahn’s mother,) Cheryl Hines plays Sandy (Bell’s mother,) and Christine Baranski plays Ruth (Kunis’ mother.) Sarandon gets the smallest role of the three, but just her presence is enough to make every scene she’s in better. Hines was probably my favorite addition to the cast, marvelously channeling Kristen Bell’s performance into hers, and being truly hilarious in the process. And Baranski got the biggest role and the most defined character, which she executes almost without flaw. To be perfectly honest, if it wasn’t for these three women, I probably would not have liked this movie.

Some credit is due to writers/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Lucas and Moore are of course who gave us the first film, and were the primary creative team in the short, less-than-a-year process of making this sequel. While the ideas they had aren’t exactly super creative, they are nevertheless very successful. It’s the three new moms that make this film the decent comedy that it is, and it was Lucas and Moore who identified, selected, and developed the stereotypes and characters they became.

Kristen Bell was the best part of the first one, and now her mom (Cheryl Hines) is the best part of this one

On the directorial side of things, Lucas and Moore were also wise in how they worked with their actors. It is clear throughout the film that a whole lot of improvisation occurred during filming, particularly on the parts of Hahn, Baranski, and Sarandon. Lucas and Moore acknowledged that this was going to be the best thing for the film, and gave their actors freedom, resulting in some of the funniest parts of the movie.

A Bad Moms Christmas is not a good, or even a very memorable movie, by any means. The film stinks with fact that it was churned out in less than a year, with many simply terrible ideas making it into the final cut of the film. Had this movie waited even another couple weeks (perhaps a bit closer to the Christmas season?) and some more time had been spent in the editing room, I think this movie could have been much better than it was. That being said, A Bad Moms Christmas did surprise me by being an entertaining film with some truly hilarious parts.

I give A Bad Moms Christmas a 6.8/10.

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