Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bad Moms (2016) ***

Psychologists have a concept called “Good Enough Parenting,” which states that kids don't need perfect parenting. They just need a certain amount of love and care, and anything beyond that doesn't provide any additional benefit in terms of life success, mental health, etc. It's hard for parents to accept that, though. We always think that if we could spend a little more quality time, provide a little more enrichment, and push a little more for academic success, that all that work will produce a proportionally better outcome for our kids. The pressure is enormous to do MORE, and it seems to fall most heavily on the moms.

In “Bad Moms,” Mila Kunis plays Amy, a mother whose efforts to run her kids around to activities, do their school projects for them, and work a part-time job, while remaining active in the PTA are driving her to exhaustion. When she catches her husband (David Walton) having an online affair, it's the last straw. Amy has a meltdown at the PTA meeting, which puts her at odds with power-mom Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), but wins her a couple of new friends, Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell.)

With her new compadres, Amy decides to pursue a new ethos. Since nothing they do ever seems to be enough to qualify them as “good moms,” they should just celebrate being “bad moms.” The ladies indulge in microrebellions like daytime movie breaks, making the kids fix their own breakfasts, and hiring the occasional babysitter. Small as these transgressions seem, they wind up costing Amy her exploitative, part-time job and they trigger all-out war with Gwendolyn. Amy winds up challenging Gwendolyn for the PTA presidency, becoming a champion for imperfect moms everywhere.

Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the minds behind “The Hangover,” “Bad Moms” is in the modern vein of raunchy-comedies-with-heart. The film does take on a bit of after-school-special stink in the third act and isn't as tightly-scripted as it could be, it's still a barrel of fun. Mila Kunis is always easy to look at, and all these actresses are good at comedy, especially Kathryn Hahn. This film is not on the level of “The Hangover” or “Bridesmaids,” but still it's a raunchy good time.

3 stars out of 5  

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