So, it turns out it’s entirely possible to enjoy a funny movie and yet feel a teensy bit insulted by it at the same time. Bad Moms is a lot of fun and I guarantee you will laugh (the performances by Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell are particularly standout). I love that there’s an entire movie all about moms and how hard they work to make their families run smoothly. But the portrayal of harried modern motherhood—and what constitutes a good mom or a bad mom—is extremely reductive, and supportive dads who care for their kids are noticeably MIA. It’s essentially Moms Gone Wild, as envisioned by men: a raunchy comedy dripping with testosterone and gross-out humour.
Bad Moms was written and directed by the same guys who brought us The Hangover (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore). Expect lots of d*ck jokes (including a very strange tangent of a scene in which Kristin Bell pretends to be an uncircumcised penis), lots of joyriding in red sports cars and tons of binge-drinking. But instead of beer-drenched bros, it’s moms joking about pounding back jello shots before morning drop-off and chugging spiked jugs of chocolate milk as they get sloshed in the supermarket dairy aisle.
The premise is supposed to be about liberation: what would happen if moms stopped being so responsible all the time and unleashed their inner 20-year-old boy? Problem is, I’m not sure we all have an inner 20-year-old boy dying to get out and party his face off. Like, whose “misbehaving moms” fantasy is this? I don’t know about you, but my idea of “moms gone wild” is not grinding in my living room at 9 p.m. with a bunch of other moms while we douse ourselves in bottles of chardonnay and do whip-its in the kitchen. Rebelling from the pressure to be a perfect Pinterest PTA mom doesn’t necessarily mean being drunk all the time. (Mixed in with this Spring Break-esque montage are a few gratuitous shots of a hugely pregnant woman dancing, and a hijab-wearing woman partying. They’re meant to draw laughs, but I found these sight gags completely offensive. Newsflash to Hollywood filmmakers: Muslim women are allowed to have fun, socialize, and even dance! So are pregnant women. It’s not as taboo as you seem to think it is.)
Of course, this is a comedy. And, in a way, it’s a parody of the kind of movies these two dudes usually make (and the typical bro-y audience for their films). Why can’t women get drunk and pee behind cars and do fun, stupid sh*t—like drive their toddlers’ tricycles off porches—if they feel like it? Why can’t we party just like the boys do?
I do think the moviemakers know they’re doling out archetypes left and right, too, because they purposefully rattle off a tongue-in-cheek list: the “weird stay-at-home moms, the tiger moms, the juicing moms, the wearable art moms, the Crossfit moms, the divorced moms, the moms that used to be dads…” etc.
There are some truly relatable lines, like when the moms all swoon for the sexy single dad at pickup (“I saw him install a car seat in like two seconds: boom-boom-click! It was so hot.”) Or when Mila Kunis’s character, Amy, is ridiculed for her matronly mom bra as she prepares for a night out. I totally wore a boring cotton nursing bra much longer than I really needed to (hey, they’re comfy!). And there was something secretly empowering about being back at work, but still wearing the undergarments for my new-mom super power. (Did you know that underneath this shirt I can also nourish A HUMAN BEING?!)
If you usually go to the movies for an escape from the 24/7 of parenting, this isn’t it. You will leave the theatre thinking about school bake-sale rules, homework battles, sleep schedules and packing lunches—not what most busy moms and dads crave on a rare night away from the kids. I usually try to make a rule with my mom friends during Girls’ Night Out: no talking about our babies allowed, at all. Mila Kunis’s character has a hard time with this one, repelling every guy she talks to at a pickup bar with too much chitchat about explosive diarrhea and her cracked, bleeding nipples.
The film’s message, in the end, is a good one: It’s OK if your bake sale contribution is store-bought. It’s OK to pack Arby’s for school lunch. It’s OK if your children haven’t bathed in a few days. And please stop over-scheduling kids; make memories together by playing hooky instead of trudging off to Mandarin class.
“I have no clue what I’m doing and I don’t think anyone does,” Amy declares in a stirring speech, as she tries to depose the mean-girl PTA president (Christina Applegate). “Can we please stop pretending that we have it all figured out?”
For me, the truest, best, “boo-yah” moment (spoiler alert) was when Amy’s boss calls and tells her the office is falling apart without her, and asks her what it would take to convince her to come back to work. She demands double her salary, tells him she’s going to work from home two days a week, informs him she’s going to “fill out her team with women who aren’t 12-year-olds,” then hangs up.
Now THAT’S a working-mom fantasy we can relate to.
Make sure you stick around for the post-credits interviews with the actors and their extremely adorable moms—it’s a heartwarming afterthought that helps redeem all the raunchiness.
Bad Moms opens in theatres across Canada on Friday, July 29.
Watch the trailer: