So here we are, with another Hollywood comedy. This time, it is Bad Moms, and if you have had the delight of watching the trailer, it sells itself as a textbook mainstream comedy that we have all become too accustomed to.
The difficulty with Hollywood comedies is not that they are entertaining. I can respect their sole purpose is to tickle mass audiences. My problem is that more often than not, they are predictable carbon-copy productions. Add a script, a blockbuster cast and there you go – a film is created. Now some of you will be thinking, “get over it, it’s a movie, and it’s just meant to entertain and be funny,” which is fine if you are not looking for originality, but I am.
As for Bad Moms, it is put together like a typical Hollywood comedy, and it is predictable in some places, however at the same time I was surprised how better it was in comparison to the trailers. The film is genuinely funny, yet entertaining, with salient messages. The premise of the story is that Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) is a highly busy mother taking on several different roles to be a good mum, a good role model to the community and a great professional at her job. Amy even participates in an after school mothers group that discuss “important” issues regarding schooling, children and being a mum. Unfortunately, the busy lifestyle eventually takes its toll, and she decides to be a “bad” mom and let loose with a couple of other mothers. Essentially the story is following a mother letting off some steam and taking on life in a different way.
Mila Kunis performs as a convincing character: a mother that is burning the candle at both ends. She genuinely looks strained and overcooked in the first phase of the film. The comedy is not present that much at the start, but it grows as the movie progresses. The introduction of the two actresses performing as the other mums (Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn) is when the comedy starts, as all three start blowing off steam in a series of gags that make you giggle consistently all the way through the movie.
The film surprisingly tackles fundamental issues about the perception of mums. There is a significant scene at the start when Amy is in a rush to go to work, and members of the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) group admire that she works hard despite her being a mother. When she goes home, her family are at the table waiting for dinner to be served, and she is apologetic for the food arriving late. When Amy wakes up, her children always wait for her to do breakfast rather than doing it themselves. Later on in the film, Kristen Bell’s character is accused of being irresponsible for not looking after her children because she is seen as a full-time mum, and the father conveys this message. These types of scenes are present throughout the film, ones which show that mums should be appreciated for the hard work they put in to look after their children and that they shouldn’t be totally relied on for everything. The film also tackles the issues to those people with the sexist view that mothers cannot be a full-time parent with a full-time career, but also holds the torch out to those mums that do stay at home and look after their children. The film, as a whole, tackles these issues through a comedy lens, and it works because you find it ridiculous that these are concerning matters, which is why it is funny, which is why it is a comedy.
I guess if you are a mother this film becomes more relatable, as a lot of the gags discuss the stresses and strains of being a parent and having to present yourself as a “real” mum in the eyes of your peers. The chief lesson is no parent is perfect, and that all you can do is try your best, which Amy translates to the audience throughout the film amongst the messy partying and blowing off steam. In the end, you get a good comedy paying homage to hard-working and dedicated mothers regardless if they work or not – the appreciation is there. What I also found a positive is that the female characters did not have to rely on men to achieve their goals; a problematic theme that still runs through cinema. There is a romantic interest that is a subplot within the narrative, but Amy does not have to rely on him to achieve her goals.
The film is not perfect. It still is a predictable Hollywood comedy that is just a movie with a series of constructed gags around an individual subject. The issue, this time, is mothers. The movie could have been funnier I guess, but it is certainly not boring. I watched this with my partner, and she did point out the fact that other audience members will probably find it funnier if they are a mother because most of the jokes were pertinent to that. In the end, you have a decent film led by Mila Kunis who does an exquisite job as a strained mother who has come to the end of her tether and decided to do what she would like to do, which is to enjoy life. It’s not amazing, but it’s not bad either, and do not let the trailers persuade you otherwise.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.