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

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.