Directed by: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Premise: A sequel to the 2016 film. Three suburban parents (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn) give up on trying to create the perfect Christmas just as their mothers visit for the holidays.
What Works: A Bad Mom’s Christmas is only intermittently funny but when the jokes land they really work. Individual set pieces of A Bad Mom’s Christmas are great, especially the early sequences of the three mothers going wild at a shopping mall. Just as the original Bad Moms tapped into the anxieties of contemporary parenthood, the sequel is intended to send up the stress and impossible expectations of the holiday season. When A Bad Mom’s Christmas actually focuses on those experiences the movie achieves some of the same acerbic humor of the first film. A Bad Mom’s Christmas benefits from its cast. Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn return and they remain great fits with their roles. When these women are together they are a very funny trio with great comic timing. Kunis, Bell, and Hahn are terrifically matched with Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon as their mothers. Each mother-daughter relationship has its own dynamic and the moments between Kristen Bell and Cheryl Hines and between Kathryn Hahn and Susan Sarandon are some of the best material in the movie. Hines’ character smothers her daughter while Sarandon is the wild mom whose affections are fleeting. These mother-daughter conflicts have some funny bits but also a few real moments, especially between Hahn and Sarandon.
What Doesn’t: The Bad Moms sequel comes a little over a year after the release of the original film and the rushed production is evident throughout the movie. At its worst, A Bad Mom’s Christmas is reminiscent of Grown Ups 2. This isn’t really a story. It’s just a bunch of scenes that could be rearranged in any order and make about as much sense. The holiday theme feels tagged onto an otherwise generic domestic comedy. That’s a shame because the Bad Moms approach to Christmas could have yielded comic gold. Some of the best Christmas movies have taken an irreverent approach to the holiday such as Bad Santa and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Those movies became classics because they identified the common experiences, frustrations, and absurdities about Christmas and had fun with them. A Bad Mom’s Christmas does that for about the first twenty minutes and then the rest of the movie is devoted to these women and their troubles with their mothers. It isn’t much of a Christmas movie and most of the mother-daughter drama is disconnected from the holiday. Worse, the movie sabotages its bad girl attitude by delving into gooey and unearned sentimentality. Far from being a send up of a hokey Christmas film, A Bad Mom’s Christmas becomes exactly that.
Bottom Line: A Bad Mom’s Christmas gets a few laughs but the movie is generic and superficial. Nothing in it is memorable or incisive and it doesn’t deliver as a Christmas comedy.
Episode: #676 (December 3, 2017)