Thursday, 9 November 2017

Review: A Bad Moms Christmas

A Bad Moms Christmas
Cert: 15 / 104 mins / Dir. Scott Moore & John Lucas / Trailer

Wow, is it Christmas already? No. No, it isn't. It's the start of November. That an actual Christmas film with actual Christmas actually in the actual title has been released so far away from the event itself suggests - on a very real level - that even Christmas wants nothing to do with this.

I know exactly how Christmas feels.

Now I may not have been the biggest fan of Bad Moms, but I at least saw some merit in the film and appreciated that the three lead performers were far too good to be involved. A little over a year and one shoddy, unasked-for festive sequel later, and I have to admit that maybe they're not. If anything, the largest bone of contention I had with the first one was the saccharine ending in which the cast talked in overly-earnest terms about their own mothers. Well, around 80 minutes of this film undercuts those 10 minutes effortlessly, as The Bad Moms*1 shriek at Their Bad Moms for almost the entire film, for little-to-no discernible reason until The Crying Bit*2. Any good work on the part of either the cast or crew of the previous entry is left out by the bins as our three heroines and their antagonistic parents stumble through the run-time, just verbalising everything which happens in lieu of actual jokes.

Int. Day.
First character falls over.

Second character: Oh my fucking god, you just fell over!
First character: I can't believe I just fell over! Fuck!

Third character holds up something which looks vaguely like a penis, then ad-libs line with the word "penis" in it.

And on it strides, for the best part of two hours; a screenplay with nothing to say, determined to say it at the top of its voice. Repeatedly. A Bad Moms Christmas is a hateful, twee, self-congratulatory, feebly manipulative, sanctimonious excuse to cash-in an expired cheque, too lazy to even properly reach for the buttons it knows it should be pushing. It runs like someone's won a bet by piecing together a film from the improvised out-takes that didn't work on set. It's like a first-draft script written by an intern who's heard of festive shoehorn-sequels, but has never seen one, for the kind of audience who can't enjoy themselves unless someone yells in their face every five minutes telling them what a good time they're having.

A Bad Moms Christmas is like a copycat hen party organised by a guest from the first one who blacked out during the second round of drinks but has convinced themselves they had a great time, even they have no idea what they're trying to replicate, and now they keep blankly smiling and trying to flirt even though they're covered in someone else's sick. It is witless, charmless and utterly devoid of merit. Justifying the existence of A Bad Moms Christmas by saying "oh, but the guys get to star in this sort of thing!" is like taking care of your friend who's downed a bottle of vodka by necking a bottle of scotch yourself. It's messy, harmful and demeaning for everyone.

I didn't expect to like this film, but I didn't expect to hate it.

Int. Night.

Christine Baranski Character: Amy, the kids want a great Christmas, you can't just phone it in!
Mila Kunis Character: Mom, I'm not just phoning this in…

And with that, dear reader, any fragile veneer of self-awareness was torn asunder, irreparably rupturing the yuletide goodwill as the howling void burst forth and screamed through the auditorium, shredding what remained of my soul.

Just remember, the word "bad" is in the title. And like everything else here, that's no joke…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The House.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
You shouldn't watch this.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I have no idea what it sets out to do and I still say it doesn't.

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?
Well, have a guess

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This film's got Susan Sarandon in it, and she performed voice-work in the 'Pickle Rick' episode of Rick and Morty, as did Peter 'Voice of Maul Serafinowicz.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

I was prepared to give this a 2/7 on the basis that other people were laughing in the room, but then they sullied Mötley Crüe's name by including them on the soundtrack.
Is this what our lord and saviour Nikki Six died for? (for two minutes)

*1 Right, while I'm on though: the idea of the first film being called Bad Moms was that the three central characters were the mothers of children, yeah? Am I remembering that right? Their children were sort of part of the film since the moms in question knew each other from doing the school run and awful meetings with the PTA. At the school. The school where their children go. So why is it that in this film, we see The Mila Kunis Character's kids fairly often, we see The Kathryn Hahn Character's idiot son about twice, and we see The Kristen Bell Character's offspring not once? I know the focus this time is on the generation above The Moms, but did I miss a line of expository dialogue where Kristen Bell says that her child/children (I honestly don't remember, sorry) had been incinerated by a zeppelin crash or abducted by aliens, or something? I honestly don't even remember the situation being mentioned. And at one point, The Kristen Bell Character is in the school making some kind of gingerbread monstrosity, so they're still letting her in there. Answers on a postcard, please… [ BACK ]

*2 Okay seriously, the guy on his own across the aisle from me found this film not only amusing, but fucking hilarious. He guffawed at every snipe, every pratfall and every time one of the characters said "vagina". Every. Time. And y'know what? That's fine. He was getting more of his money's worth than I was. But then in The Crying Bit that takes place in a church at midnight-mass and a tearful Mila Kunis tells Christine Baranski exactly how much she means to her even though they're always fighting - he was still laughing. It appears that this film is successful with people who have recently had some kind of serious cranial trauma, because I can't think of any other reason you'd find that scene funny. Imagine what else is going on in this guy's life that A Bad Moms Christmas is a good time by comparison… [ BACK ]

• ^^^ 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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