I’m “biast” (con): the trailer looked awful
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a sequel throw its progenitor movie under a bus the way that A Bad Moms Christmas does. If I hadn’t just rewatched Bad Moms, I would have been doubting what I remembered as a very positive reaction to it last year as I sat through this barrage of nasty, cruel, antiwoman, even antimom garbage.
The bizarre thing is that the same creative team — writers and directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore — have returned. Was Bad Moms a case of even a stopped clock being right twice a day? It seems so: Lucas and Moore have previous scripted some truly heinous movies, such as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and The Change-Up, and their least terrible movie prior to Bad Moms is The Hangover, which still isn’t very good. Did they even actually write the Bad Moms script? There was previously no indication at all that they understood what it’s like to be a woman alive today, and Christmas suggests (as all their previous work has) that whatever they think they know about women consists entirely of stereotypes.
We got genuinely overstressed and frustrated moms with authentic grievances in Bad Moms, and if what happened around them as they finally said “Enough!” and fought back against modern motherhood was a little exaggerated, it was nevertheless still pretty grounded and recognizable. What happens in A Bad Moms Christmas is simply ridiculous, as if the only way Lucas and Moore knew to craft a sequel was MOAR and BIGGER, to blow it all up until it no longer appears even human. All three moms — Amy (Mila Kunis: Jupiter Ascending, Annie), Kiki (Kristen Bell: CHiPs (2017), The Boss), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn: The Family Fang, The Visit) — seem to have regressed back to what they were before their awakening of Bad Moms, as if they’ve forgotten everything that had happened and everything they’d determined to change about their lives. Christmas forces them through the same process all over again — only with added screaming, foulmouthed tykes, crotch-injury humor, and random debauchery that has zero thematic connection to anything else going on — as their own hideously cartoonish bad mothers all simultaneously show up for the holiday and pit themselves against their daughters. Amy’s mom, Ruth (Christine Baranski: Miss Sloane, Trolls), is a sadistic, racist, selfish conspicuous consumer. Kiki’s mom, Sandy (Cheryl Hines: The Ugly Truth, Space Chimps), is a clingy, self-abnegating snoop. Carla’s mom, Isis (Susan Sarandon: Zoolander 2, Tammy) — “like the terrorist organization,” because jokes about radical fundamentalist terrorism is something no Christmas movie should be without — is a lying, thieving, alcoholic gambler. All of them have problems setting boundaries and behaving like reasonable adults.
Probably A Bad Moms Christmas thinks it’s about the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters. But it seems able to approach this only in a phony way that does not earn any of the big emotion it wants to be about.
Bullshit. A true sequel to Bad Moms that wanted to deal with this sort of generational crap would be called Bad Daughters, and would have seen Amy, Kiki, and Carla tossing out harmful notions of overly dutiful daughterhood in the same way they tossed out notions of maternal perfection. That would have required the same sort of audacity and courage that the first film had in spades. Where did that disappear to?