Friday, 19 August 2016

Review: Bad Moms

Bad Moms
Cert: 15 / 101 mins / Dir. Scott Moore & Jon Lucas / Trailer

I'd long suspected it, of course, but it appears that The Hollywood Corporation™ actually has a dedicated department (of rolling-staff) whose sole function is to pen distinctly substandard screenplays, then title them with the word "bad" followed by the description of the main character(s) in a self-effacing attempt to just ride that shit out. Neighbours, Grandpa, Teacher, Education. Each one with the adjective-part of the title serving as a direct warning.

Is it a warning I heed..? Of course not.

I'll be completely upfront, while that trailer didn't fill me with confidence, I really wanted to like Bad Moms as it's got a great central cast. Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell are on top form*1, and Kathryn Hahn deftly steals every scene she's in. Christina Applegate tries her damnedest to make the most of 'generic evil PTA mom', and pretty much everyone else is a cardboard cut-out with the words "Insert characterisation post-prod" written where the face should be.

As is par for the course these days, the aforementioned trailer outlines the film far more thoroughly than it should, but far from spoiling the best gags, the final cut actually features many less-funny variants and ad-libs*2 of the lines we've seen several times, undercutting its own attempts to bring the trailer-watching audience something fresh.

Perhaps the most insulting thing about this ode to dysfunctional motherhood is that it's actually written and directed by two guys. Not just any two guys, but the two guys who wrote The Hangover. Now, I like the Hangover movies, but they are very much what they are; blokey films for blokes by blokes. So there's a part of the equation in Bad Moms which doesn't really hang together. It appears that Messrs Moore and Lucas toyed with crafting a spiritual cousin of Bridesmaids, but ended up knocking out an oestrogen-flavoured Hall Pass instead.

I stand by my recent Twitter tirade.

Now obviously, this film wasn't aimed at me, and I by no means hated it. But it loses a point for the final twenty minutes, which are so excruciatingly patronising that they make Emma Roberts' anarchist-mollifying crescendo in Nerve look like James Dean spitting at a vicar's mum. Every misty-eyed, head-tilting, single-tear, standing-ovation-sparking, group-hugging, forced-nostalgia moment, (from Mila's rousing appearance at the PTA election night to the credits-accompanying footage of the cast sitting on sofas with their real-life mums and talking about how simply wonderful everything is) has been calculatingly laid out to convince the audience they've watched something emotionally worthy, rather than just over an hour and a half of dick-jokes and chronically lazy stereotyping.

Credit where it's due though, the rest of tonight's advance-screening audience found the film audibly and regularly amusing. They're either nowhere near as jaded as I am, or the glue-fumes blowing through the air-conditioning units just didn't reach as far as seat F11.

The Bad Moms DVD will, of course, be a staple fixture on the 'Mother's Day Gift Ideas' supermarket display-stands from next year until around the time the Earth goes hurtling into the Sun. And after the last twenty minutes of this movie, I probably wouldn't mind if that was sooner rather than later…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Bad [x] films.
And bad films

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Only if you're desperate to see it as soon as possible and can't wait until it's on the £3 DVD rack.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?

Is this the best work of the cast or director?

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Amazingly, no.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This film's got Jada Pinkett Smith in it, who also starred in 2008's The Women alongside Carrie 'Leia' Fisher.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Although the placement of Kunis and Bell in particular is the second time in as many days that I've been reminded I'd rather be watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

*2 Several featuring my second-favourite kind of ad-libbing, where one character delivered a combination feed/punch-line, then someone else on-screen basically describes what just happened and why it's funny. To wit, one character falls over while another stands and winces, saying "oh, that hurt!", their role existing purely to deliver the explanation. Alternatively, one character repeats what another character says for comic effect. The second character berates the first character for repeating them, also for comic effect. Then twenty minutes later, the whole thing is re-enacted again in a different scene. #Comedy

*3 And let's look on the bright-side here. With Jupiter Ascending now fully out in the wild, it's not like any new movie can be Mila Kunis' worst one, right..? (and if you're reading this Mila, that's not a challenge)

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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