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|A Bad Moms Christmas
dir-scr Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
prd Suzanne Todd
with Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, Cheryl Hines, Jay Hernandez, Peter Gallagher, Justin Hartley, Emjay Anthony, Oona Laurence, Ariana Greenblatt
release US/UK 3.Nov.17
17/US STX 1h44
Holiday hell: Hahn, Kunis and Bell
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Filmmakers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore quickly revisit the ensemble from last year's undemanding grown-up comedy for a bit of undemanding holiday chaos. As before, most of the humour is lazy, but the smart casting allows for snappy improvisation as the actors make the most of their scenes together. There's nothing remotely original here, but there are solid laughs and characters who are endearing enough to offer some Christmas cheer.
Frazzled by the demands of the season, Amy (Kunis) is happy when her boyfriend (Hernandez) and kids (Anthony, Laurence and Greenblatt) opt for a mellow Christmas. Then her parents (Baranski and Gallagher) arrive, and Mom has demanding plans. Meanwhile, Amy's best friends Kiki and Carla (Bell and Hahn) are having their own maternal issues, as Kiki's way-too-involved mother (Hines) descends for a three-week visit and Carla's slacker-gambler mother (Sarandon) drops by to ask for some cash. At least Carla is cheered up when a hunky stripping Santa (Hartley) arrives at her spa for a wax.
Lucas and Moore don't even try to get creative here. These three women simplistically have mothers who are exaggerated versions of themselves, which removes any chance to be surprised by what that happens. And clearly the directors encouraged Baranski, Sarandon and Hines to play their roles in the most over-the-top ways possible, which is sometimes funny but never subtle. The script also attempts to find emotional interest later on, but it's all so obvious that it feels fake.
Still, the cast is solid enough to keep the film watchable. At the centre, Kunis and Baranski are terrific together, firing on all cylinders as they clash about everything, and they even manage to sell the sentimentality. Bell and Hahn are hilarious as always, and their counterparts Hines and Sarandon give their roles some gusto. Hernandez and Hartley are basically enjoyable beefcake, although Hartley's romantic waxing scene is genuinely hysterical. And at least Gallagher gets two strong scenes.
Throw in silly cameos for the first movie's costars Wanda Sykes and Christina Applegate, and this seems to be a franchise in the making. But it's frustrating that the humour is so broad; aside from the adult-oriented language and jokes, there's little to make this stand out from other Christmas comedies. That said, there are some terrific moments along the way, including goofy sight gags, sassy set-pieces and a strong sense of women who are tired of being the ones who have to bear all of the responsibility.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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