Those naughty ladies are back in a Christmas movie that will be gone and forgotten long before Christmas. This is a sequel of sorts to the 2016 comedy Bad Moms, with Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn reprising their roles as harried Amy, hapless Kiki and slutty Carla, respectively. This time, their holidays are less than happy when their mothers come a’calling. Christine Baranski plays Amy’s haughty mother, Cheryl Hines is Kiki’s clinging mother and Susan Sarandon is Carla’s freewheeling mother.
Jon Lucas and Scott Moore return as writer-directors, and they should probably be praised for putting together a movie with not just three female leads, but six. The downside is that these six actresses, as fine as they are, are tasked with a profane script that veers uncomfortably from sexual crudity to sentimental mush and back again, often in the same scene. Kids can’t relate to their parents, who can’t relate to their parents. The angst in these situations is universal, which is why the movie works as well as it does. But how many moms have to interrupt their mother dancing on top of a bar with a stripping Santa Claus? It happens here.
Crude humor has become not just familiar but popular, with anything and everything in the target zone. I don’t care for it, but I am no longer most movies’ target audience. And people will like what they like, so if this or Bad Santa floats your boat, so be it. I just wish these awkward comedies of embarrassment were actually funny. I think I laughed once, and I can’t remember exactly why. I just don’t understand what reactions the filmmakers are trying to entice. What I will undoubtedly remember is the distaste I had watching adolescent Oona Laurence having to say “Oh my f-ing God” — repeatedly.
Besides the swearing what this film really delivers is Christmas sentiment. After all the debauchery and commercialism and unsubtle satire has passed, what remains is a huge helping of holiday mush, as the women learn that family connections, however tenuous, are what is truly important. Make peace with your parents, the film intones, even if they do drive you crazy. That shopworn sentiment doesn’t really mesh with all the innuendo, and it seems rather forced, but it is powerful enough to make this mess somewhat palatable. Credit the female cast with a nice job all around. ☆ ☆. 15 November 2017.