After Bridesmaids burst onto the scene in 2011, the surprise hit featuring mostly women seemed to portend a new breed of movies that would not only give women more opportunities to be stars, but would also allow them to behave as badly as men have for decades. And yet, apart from the career of Melissa McCarthy, few films have followed suit, a strange thing in an industry usually built on copycats.
So, it’s no small thing to see a movie like Bad Moms make it to the theaters. Its main actors — Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christina Applegate, and Jada Pinkett Smith — are all well known, but none is considered a can’t-miss star. That could change after this barn burner of a movie that lets them cut loose in ways they never have before.
The film, written and directed by the two men who wrote The Hangover, centers on Amy (Kunis), a young mother of two preteens who’s juggling demands from her kids, husband, and job. After a series of too many stressors, she finds solace in the form of Carla (Hahn) and Kiki (Bell), two fellow moms who are also sick of the pressure put on them by their families and others.
The trio proceeds to throw caution to the wind, blowing off work and family duties during the day and boozing it up at night. Set to a slew of contemporary pop and hip-hop songs, the scenes of them going crazy are an absolute blast to watch, as they do and say things that are a far cry from the usual actions of women in movies.
The caveat in this case is that you have to ignore the cheesiness and improbabilities of the story in order to fully enjoy the movie. Amy’s husband (David Walton) is portrayed as a doofus and a cheater of the highest order, thus allowing her to not feel guilty exploring her wild side, including a fling with a single dad (Jay Hernandez). And the movie hardly addresses exactly what all the kids are doing while the threesome is off having fun, so it’s best not to think about it too much.
And, really, it doesn’t matter. This is a movie that will have moms of all ages — and everyone else — howling with laughter, as it allows them to indulge in a bit of wish fulfillment without actually worrying about being bad moms themselves. While it’s not the most insightful movie about motherhood, it does contain enough knowledge to not make it seem completely preposterous either.
Kunis, Bell, and Hahn are great together, each bringing something different to the table. It’s Hahn who garners the most laughs, as her I-don’t-give-a-crap character says and does what she wants at all times, no matter the circumstances. Applegate and Pinkett Smith, frustratingly, are one-dimensional villains, but you end up hating them so much that it’s hard to argue they don’t play them well.
Women are a highly underserved section of society when it comes to movies, as they are usually given romantic comedies and little else. Bad Moms proves that, when done well, movies of all types can appeal to women. Studios just have to be willing to try.