Mean girls: the next gen­er­a­tion

The writ­ers of ‘The Hang­over’ take on mod­ern moth­er­hood in this sharply-ob­served comic turn, writes Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS -

Di­rected by Jon Lu­cas and Scott Moore. Star­ring Mila Ku­nis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, An­nie Mu­molo, Jay Her­nan­dez, Jada Pin­kett Smith, Christina Ap­ple­gate Cert 16, gen re­lease, 100mins Dis­re­gard the ti­tle: they’re not really Bad Moms. As this new potty-mouthed com­edy opens a stressed-out Amy (Mila Ku­nis: give this wo­man more lead roles, please) is deal­ing with the plate-spin­ning chal­lenges that come with two kids, a full-time job, a ne’er-do-well hus­band, cook­ing and af­ter­school ac­tiv­i­ties.

Amy had her first child at 20. She has, she notes, been run­ning late ever since. It’s not easy, es­pe­cially when your boss is a jerk and your other half is hav­ing an on­line af­fair.

So when the big­ger, meaner girls of the PTA, led by Christina Ap­ple­gate’s ter­ri­fy­ing Gwen­dolyn, call on Amy to help po­lice the bake sale for “toxic” sub­stances (in­clud­ing eggs, sugar, nuts), our put-upon hero­ine rebels.

Amy promptly makes en­e­mies of Gwen­dolyn and her flunkies (played by Jada Pin­kett Smith and An­nie Mu­molo, who co-au­thored Brides­maids) by say­ing “no” to the PTA, but she also makes some new chums, in­clud­ing Carla (Kathryn Hahn), who takes refuge from her ma­ter­nal strug­gles in a fug of al­co­hol and sex with strangers – sam­ple

zinger: “Don’t fuck the jan­i­tor at your kid’s school? What the fuck is this? Rus­sia?” And then there is lonely Kiki (Kristen Bell), an in­vis­i­ble, stay-at-home mom who trills: “I feel like Bey­oncé Knowles” when Amy re­mem­bers her name.

Might all these moms fare bet­ter if they stopped striv­ing for per­fec­tion? Might they feel bet­ter after some fe­male ca­ma­raderie and “shitty wine”?

Might their “hy­per-stressed and over-sched­uled” chil­dren ben­e­fit from down­time and mak­ing their own damned break­fast? Judd Apa­tow and his wife Les­lie Mann were once at­tached to this af­fa­ble com­edy, a project that might have par­tially atoned for his turn­ing fem­i­nist icon Amy Schumer into just an­other boy-chaser in last sum­mer’s Train­wreck. Their exit al­lowed for a cast – all real life work­ing moms – that sim­ply could not be bet­tered in terms of chem­istry and comic tim­ing.

Writer-di­rec­tors Jon Lu­cas and Scott Moore – the screen­writ­ing bros be­hind the bros of The Hang­over and 21 & Over – oc­ca­sion­ally miss a beat with their de­pic­tions of soc­cer moms drool­ing over “hot wid­owed dad”. But mostly, Bad Moms is re­mark­ably as­tute about the pres­sures and neu­roses of mod­ern par­ent­ing.

Good jokes help, as does a warm-hearted de­noue­ment that ex­on­er­ates the mean girls. They’re just moms, too, you know?

Bad Moms Mad, bad and dan­ger­ous to know

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