Mean girls: the next generation
The writers of ‘The Hangover’ take on modern motherhood in this sharply-observed comic turn, writes Tara Brady
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