Seen by Hollywood as irreversibly ancient at the age of 34, Mila Kunis is once again shafted into the role of the ‘bad mom’. Along with her best gal pals, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hann, they have to fulfil their ‘motherly duties’ and deliver the perfect Christmas for their kids, while dealing with the unique problems caused by their own mothers who all decide to visit.
The festive sequel to Bad Moms (2016) does not live up to its title. The moms are so caught up in being moms that they forget to be bad, except when they get drunk in a mall and grind on Santa. They have been reduced to the Christmas movie mother stereotype; they get the presents, cook the food, and decorate the house. Meanwhile, Kunis’ partner Jay Hernandez is a dumbfounded hunk of meat who spends every minute reminding Kunis’ mother (Christine Baranski) what his name is.
Speaking of Baranski, her character’s relationship with her daughter is the film’s main focus. This is despite Susan Sarandon’s character (Hann’s mother) being infinitely more interesting, and having whole back story alluded to but never explored. Baranski and Kunis’ feuds never feel like anything more than petty disagreements that extract no real sympathy from the audience. It is a shockingly shallow affair thinly disguised with physical comedy.
When the daughter does snap and act irrationally, who comes in to console and educate her? A man. Any suggestion of female empowerment in this film is undermined by Peter Gallagher’s character calmly saying that Kunis does not know the full story and does not understand her mother properly. That’s right – the man comes in and tells her daughter to stop being unreasonable and control her overflowing emotions. This may be a harsh interpretation – Gallagher’s character is one of the most likeable in the film – but it is almost impossible to not notice that this pseudo-feminist tale (directed by two men, no less) often falls into sexist stereotyping.
All this might at least be tolerable if the film was remotely funny and warm. Sadly, only very rarely does it manage one or the other, and never the two together. The humour falls painfully flat and muscles in on those scenes meant to show the tenderness and love of the mother-daughter relationship. The attempts to generate any kind of atmosphere are laughable.
A Bad Moms Christmas is the worst Christmas movie of recent years. This is quite an achievement when Bad Santa 2 (2016) is still fresh in the imagination. It is yet another desperate attempt to get away with a mediocre cash-in on the holiday season. Throw in a confused message about motherhood and too many bad jokes, eating a wreath of holly becomes an enticing alternative to enduring this absolute travesty.
Image: Entertainment Film