‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ Review: A Ranchy Festive Sequel That Lack Its Predecessor’s Charm

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source: STX Entertainment

A Bad Moms Christmas can’t help but feel like a rushed sequel wrapped in a cheap Christmas movie

I’m all for feminist female-centric comedy films. Heck, I even enjoyed Rough Nights despite the hate that film got. However, it’s hard to stand by A Bad Moms Christmas. What starts out as a movie about gender roles quickly becomes another cheesy and tacky Christmas movie. Even as an attempt to cozy us up to the inevitable Holiday season, A Bad Moms Christmas is here to remind me why I hate Christmas movies so much.

Bad moms Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathyrn Hahn) are fed up with Christmas duties. However, as their peculiar moms come to visit, they want to take Christmas back, and in the process, they manage to deliver more shenanigans.

A Bad Moms Christmas isn’t certainly the worst Christmas film ever. There are definitely far worst Christmas movies out there. Just like the first, it’s a commentary on gender roles and the pressure of being a mother. It’s a film that understands how mothers feel during the busiest time of the year. Christine Baranski’s character says it best: “moms don’t enjoy, they give joy” and this is precisely what the film tries to tackle.

Speaking of Baranski, she is this sequel’s best asset. Her character, Ruth, is the perfect mom whose image has got to be perfect. Her need for an extravagant Christmas brings the film’s best and only laughs. While Baranski isn’t any different than her character on the hit show, The Big Bang Theory, where she plays Leonard’s condescending mother, she’s no less brilliant here. Her dry and edgy humor works best in a film, otherwise, devoided of edginess.

But it’s also with her character that things take a turn for the worst. As with all the mom’s moms, they all basically play common stereotypes of mothers. Baranski is the perfect mom trying to keep her perfect image intact, Sarandon is the recklessly carefree rock n roll mom, and Hines is the over-protective mom with no boundaries. Each plays their roles accordingly, and while each offers up some nice laughs when the film dials down to a more serious tone, they all seem out of place. Even when A Bad Moms Christmas attempts to humanize them, the moms can’t shed their over-the-top caricatures.

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Even with newcomers such as Christine Baranski and Susan Sarandon, A Bad Moms Christmas lacks its predecessor’s charm – source: STX Entertainment

Why does a film like A Bad Moms Christmas feel the need to get serious? The short answer: it’s a Christmas movie. Director Jon Lucas and Scott Moore find themselves falling in festive movie cliches more than once. Their need to force an incredibly shallow and Christmas-y meaning to a fun film immediately hurts it. And with the caricature moms, these serious and emotional scenes don’t quite work as expected. Lucas and Moore desperately try to pander to the Christmas crowd with an overly dramatic finale that feels rushed and seen in almost all of your holiday watches. It’s a lazy route to take for a film interested in subverting comedy cliches.

Although the film was at its strongest at the beginning, A Bad Moms Christmas depended too much on shock laughs which got tired quickly. If it is moms twerking on a mall Santa or inexplicably stealing trees from Foot Locker, using shock value as a means to make your audience laugh is quite cheap.

The oddest choice in A Bad Moms Christmas is the narrative construction of the film. Lucas and Moore decide to tell the movie in different stories a la vignette style. The film is even divided into days until Christmas which feel quite generic and an odd choice that keeps the three main characters apart for most of the film. The joy of the first film was seeing the three central moms doing irresponsible shenanigans. Yet, here, they are almost never reunited. Their stories are kept separate, instead, focusing on their relationship with their mothers and that’s not quite as fun as seeing them together drinking the night away.

I’m sure A Bad Moms Christmas will satisfy the Christmas movie devotees, looking for their next festive film to add to their already abundant list of cheesy Hallmark channel originals. But for anyone else, this holiday sequel is a rushed film that’s more focused on making a terrible Christmas movie than a fun sequel. Even with the gang back for more fun and newcomers ready to party, the directors can’t seem to give them anything worthwhile to do much to the audience’s frustration.

GRADE: C-

A Bad Moms Christmas comes out November 3.

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