Already being dubbed the chick-flick version of The Hangover, Bad Moms is actually more than that. Sure, the script was penned by Hangover scribes-come-directors John Lucas and Scott Moore, but where we’re used to seeing these guys presenting scene after scene of men gratuitously behaving badly, the protagonists in Bad Moms have good reason to go wildly off the rails.
Central character Amy (Mila Kunis) is a 32-year-old mother of two who’s simply had enough of taking on the bigger responsibilities in the household. Her husband is a lazy, unemployed douche-bag, and while her kids are actually fairly well-behaved, they do demand plenty in the way of attention and time.
While the rundown mother figure is nothing new in cinema, having seen it in various guises, from Faye Dunaway’s exhausted matriarch in Mommy Dearest to Kathleen Turner’s sweetie-pie-turns-serial-killer in Serial Mom, the women witnessed in these roles appear to have been shaped from an old-school mould. Bad Moms presents a contemporary twist on the overworked, under-appreciated mother – one who has to balance career-building with child-rearing, bake sales with ball-breaking husbands, P&T meetings with politically-correct packed lunches. Indeed, as one of the mothers in the film rightly states, “It’s absolutely impossible to be a good Mom today”.
Still, while it is believable watching Kunis cram her day with more things-to-do than the president of any given country, what falls short are the trimmings she provides in her motherly role – the things she does over and beyond the call of duty, like cooking hot breakfasts every day for her kids when there’s already enough on her plate.
Of course, modern-day mothers each come with their own personality – some too cautious and responsible, others prepared to break the rules much quicker. That’s where Kathryn Hahn’s foul-mouthed, suffers-no-fools divorcee character, Carla, comes in. She’s already had plenty of practise putting responsibility on hold in the name of hard-partying and within a matter of clinking glasses with Kunis’ Amy, along with clueless good girl Kiki (Kristen Bell), the trio are running amok and turning grocery stores into riot scenes.
The great thing about Bad Moms is its absolute disregard for morale. Where many of these girls-gone-bad films often see resolution in the form of the women apologising for their behaviour and reverting back to their goody-goody selves – or worse, starting out pretty bad and then cleaning up their act (see: Sisters), Bad Moms leaves a waft of decadence in the air, allowing the dust to settle only for someone else to clean up afterwards.
While not exactly a serious post-feminist text, it does preach one forward-thinking philosophy: that every young mother should cut loose once in a while so that their husbands and kids might realise just what hard work they do put in when they are being, well, responsible. Antonino Tati
‘Bad Moms’ is in cinemas now.