Movie Review: ‘A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS’ is not the reason for the season

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Jared McMillan // Film Critic

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS

Rated R, 104 minutes.
Director: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Cast: Mila KunisKristen BellKathryn HahnChristine BaranskiSusan SarandonCheryl Hines and Jay Hernandez

Last year, BAD MOMS became one of the big sleeper hits of 2016, raking in over $110 million domestically. As sure as Carla was going to drop an f-bomb or ten, Hollywood saw some franchise dollars could be gained off the movie’s success. Guess they are still struggling to realize that women like raunchy humor as well.

Anyway, the sequel, A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS, follows Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) as they navigate the week leading up to Christmas. However, instead of a conniving PTA president as the villain, they come face to face with their biggest protagonists: their mothers.

Amy has an overbearing perfectionist in Ruth (Christine Baranski), who feels her daughter is dropping the ball when it comes to the holidays. Kiki must deal with a Smother in Sandy (Cheryl Hines), as she refuses to give Kiki any personal space. And Carla’s mother (Susan Sarandon) comes breezing back into her life after a lengthy absence.

Does that synopsis sound familiar? Sure it does. Returning writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore basically keep the same game plan from the previous flick. Unfortunately, it becomes quickly apparent that they didn’t learn from any of those mistakes. In fact, it feels like the first 30 minutes is almost the same as the first movie.

However, it is supposed to be a little sparse in storytelling to make way for sight gags and ad libs. When A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS gets out of the way of itself, it delivers the bawdy goods. The interactions with their mothers lead to some hilarious awkward moments as they to figure each other out. Also, there is a meet-cute between Carla and a new love interest that is probably the funniest scene of the movie. Everybody else holds their own throughout the movie, but Cheryl Hines really stands out as Sandy, meekly chewing up scenes with a cringeworthy friendliness.

Sadly, no matter how big the laughs, it can’t overcome its problems. Again, like the original, it would probably be better written by women, so there isn’t a constant repetition of “Moms have it hard” without any sort of substance to go along with it. They still use Amy’s narration for no reason at all, there are charcter inconsistencies, and there are a lot of cuts that don’t make sense (example: there is six days until Christmas, Amy has a two-minute scene, then it’s five days until Christmas). A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS can be entertaining, but it needs to be elevating more of its strengths to gain more success.

Grade: C-

A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS opens nationwide today (11/1).

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.