Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
Directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have made a good living off exposing the raunchy side of comedy for quite some time now. Sensations like THE HANGOVER and 21 AND OVER solidified the writer/ directing duo as the hot ticket in town. Now the pair return to the silver screen with an uproarious female-driven raunch “momcom,” BAD MOMS. Not only is this Lucas and Moore’s most enlightened work yet, it’s really funny and the perfect “girls night out” film.
At the film’s recent press day in Los Angeles, we learned a few fun facts about the film – everything from working with Martha Stewart, to the research that didn’t make the final cut, to how to be a “bad” mom.
7. Mila Kunis’ character was the toughest character to fully flesh out. In the film, Kunis plays stressed out, overworked and under-appreciated mom Amy, who’s on the verge of changing her life around. She’s also our gateway character into the world populated by all different types of moms. Lucas said, “It’s always the hardest writing the middle of the movie which is Mila, because you have to hit the balance. From a writing perspective, purely comedic characters aren’t easy, but you always know what their lane is. You always know what they’re trying to do – what they’re trying to get. When you’re holding down the center of the movie, like Mila, you have to have the comedic stuff, but you can’t get so far into the comedic weeds where you don’t have any reality. The audience has to latch onto her.” Moore elucidated, “Mila gets a lot of laughs, but she is sort of the straight guy in the movie. ‘Amy’ was the most difficult and most dangerous. What she’s doing could be unlikeable. She’s basically quitting on her kids so we needed to ride that line where you’re cheering for her telling her own kids to make breakfast and do their own homework. It was that fine line being tricky.”
6. Kathryn Hahn found Carla’s essence in her wardrobe. Hahn’s character, Carla is a true outsider when compared to the other moms at the school; brash, outlandish and with a mouth that would make a sailor blush, Carla embraces her “bad” side with a bear hug. “There was something so cathartic about playing someone who could completely divorce herself from guilt or consequence. She was so in there, wanting to get out. It was really fun to build her with the costume designer. Her hair, we called, ‘The Seventh Mom.’”
5. The “bad” in BAD MOMS is actually the wrong descriptor to use. Christina Applegate, who plays type-A perfectionist Gwendolyn, questioned sincerely, “What is ‘bad mom?!’ This movie is depicting real moms who aren’t perfect. The term bad mom is from someone who is judging someone who fails a little bit every once in a while. If we can’t accept it’s okay to fail, that doesn’t make you a bad mom – that makes you an awesome mom. It gives your children an opportunity to understand that mistakes are a part of life and growing. That’s what these moms are doing, tapping out to rejuvenate themselves so they can be better and stronger for their children. There’s so much pressure to be perfect and I think this movie is saying, it’s okay that we’re not.” “When they refer to us as bad moms, it’s not moms who put their kids’ lives in danger,” Kunis was quick to point out. “It’s just being able to allow yourself to make mistakes and know it’s okay to ask for help. Not to put so much pressure on yourself.”
4. Martha Stewart makes a magnificent cameo because of course she does. Stewart is the queen of perfection. I believe I learned the phrase, “God is in the details” from her. So when it came time to shoot her brief scene on set, a few cast members were slightly intimidated. Annie Mumolo, who plays Vicky, the dimwit member of Gwendolyn’s mom squad, said, “You’re afraid of her before you meet her.” Applegate concurred, stating, “Yeah. And then she comes in and she’s just lovely, funny and game. She was great. It was very brief. We were with her for maybe ten minutes.”
3. Being a part of a female-driven raunch com is still a big deal. The fact this is a huge summer comedy being led by more than three dynamic ladies is a feat within itself when it comes to the Hollywood machine. While it’s a highlight of the movie, it’s sad that – even in this day and age – it has to be pointed out. Hahn, who felt a similar sentiment on these types of scripts crossing her path, stated, “We were talking about how maddening it’s still a benchmark. ‘Well if this one does ok, then maybe there will be a..’ It’s like, ‘What?!’ People are hungry for good storytelling of any kind – and complicated and messy women are part of it.” Kunis added that when her husband saw the film, “He didn’t look at it as a one quadrant film which is always a positive coming from a thirty plus year old male. The humor isn’t female based humor – it’s universal humor.”
2. Social media used to play a bigger part in the film. There are a multitude of resonant “mom experiences” Moore and Lucas used in the film that they culled hosting dinner parties with moms. One of the aspects of motherhood that didn’t make it in dealt with social media’s influence on parenting. Moore said, “We didn’t do it because social media never plays well in movies. The whole other level of mom nonsense that’s tied to social media where it’s like everything is posed. I don’t understand why people spend their time doing that other than to make you feel terrible about your own party or whatever. Every social circle has their equivalent of here’s the fancy mom doing something fancy and all the other moms feel terrible they’re not doing it. Or here’s my kid who won this, this and this and then here’s my kid upstairs eating paste. That’s an angle we didn’t take because visually it wasn’t very interesting. There’s so much ‘mom stuff’ that’s possible. The fact we got this down to an hour and a half, I’m pretty proud of. And these worlds are only getting crazier. I don’t see this as getting better – maybe our film will save the world.”
1. The ladies’ chat in front of Amy’s mirror was inspired by producer Suzanne Todd’s real life conversation with a friend. Lucas spilled the beans on this scene, saying, “The scene where the girls are in the bathroom getting ready was not a scene that we wrote with any intent. It was almost like a passing scene to get them changing from the car. Suzanne pitched this thing and I was like, ‘This is fucking crazy. You talk like this?!’” Todd added, “I was just quoting a friend. It wasn’t something I said. A friend of mine had said that.” Lucas augmented, “I would’ve thought it’s a very male thing to [think] when girls are together all they do is talk about guys’ penis’ so I would not have written it that way. She was like, ‘No. We do but we’re making fun of it.’ That’s an example of why it’s so great Suzanne was there.”
BAD MOMS opens on July 29.