bad moms: the movie

Let's be real. Nobody is going to see Bad Moms for the edge-of-your-seat plot twists. But consider yourselves warned: Here be spoilers.

If you want to see this movie with fresh eyes, do not read this post.


When I first saw the preview for Bad Moms, I texted a bunch of friends right then and there, my phone screen lighting up the darkened theater.

OMG just saw preview for Bad Moms
looks amazing
can't wait
let's go see it at the theater where they bring drinks to your seat!!!

I was so excited to see a story about real, funny, flawed, foul-mouthed moms, starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn! Not that I thought this film would cause like a universal cultural shift and suddenly people would be nice to me in the grocery store, but I feel like studios have been giving more space to female-driven comedy films, and I was PSYCHED about this one!

To the sacred canon of Mean Girls, Bring it On, Legally Blonde, and Clueless we can now add a slew of hard-drinking, fucking-up, pratfalling weirdos, geniuses, and badass motherfuckers from such films as Pitch Perfect, Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher, Spy, Trainwreck, Ghostbusters, and, I hoped, Bad Moms.

But nope.

You guys, I didn't like Bad Moms at all.

I was hoping that this movie would be like really sharp parenting standup. Louis CK does hilarious bits about parenting - specific, relatableheartbreaking. That movie would be incredible - insightful and heartless and vulnerable and sidesplitting. When I think about that movie I imagine feeling it in all the parts of my body, from clenched teeth to aching heart.

Bad Moms was both toothless and heartless. The entire movie is a half-measure, an uncommitted gesture, tepid, watered-down. Not at all like parenting. Not at all. It's weird, almost like moms didn't write it or something.

It's a missed opportunity from beginning to end, from the heavy caricature of husbands as irredeemable layabouts and man-babies to the superficial and sketchy one-dimensional friendship of the three main characters.

There were so many things I disliked about Bad Moms.

I hated the way the screenplay sidestepped the complicated relationship dynamics between mothers who are also friends. Mom friends are happy for each other and jealous of each other. They are grossed out by each other and proud of each other. They roll their eyes at each other and defend each other fiercely. Mom friends are the only other people on Earth who know how hard your job is. They are the only ones whose judgment really wounds you, and the only ones whose love really carries you.

Mila, Kristen, and Kathryn had great chemistry and are all funny, smart women; I wished they'd had more to do than play frazzled, drunk, and hung over. I wish they hadn't just "gotten along fine." I wish Kathryn had been jealous of Mila's hot hookup. I wish Kristen had gotten really fucking mad and screamed inappropriately at her friends after they tried to give her helpful advice about how to bone up her husband's premanently squishy dick, when all she really wanted was someone to say "dude that sucks." I wish it had been messy. I wish they'd taken me on a real-life mom-life roller coaster with sharp turns, plummeting hills, and steep ascents, rather than the fucking uniformly predictable "Small World" glassy-pond version of motherhood.

I hated the way the movie gives the moms two kinds of scenes: scenes in the car running around with their kids, and scenes in which their kids have wordlessly vanished and they are doing sex and mischief. I know for a fact that I was not the only one in the movie theater thinking, "yo who is paying for these magic available-all-the-time babysitter elves?"

I don't think movies have to hew to reality, but I do think it would have been smarter, funnier, and truer to show Kristen Bell playing dress-up in the bathroom and talking about her husband's floppy weiner with a kid on her boob; to show Kathryn Hahn making delightfully x-rated innuendoes with the busboy at the pizza place while "helping" her son with his history homework. "Excuse me, what's your name? Have you heard of the Battle of the Bulge? Oh, I bet you have..."

Of course, I understand why the movie just couldn't do that, even as a clearly hyperbolic, transgressive shock joke. "Girls can do shots and make dick jokes, but they can't do it in front of their CHILDREN. This is a movie about MOMS, you guys. Moms don't DO messy, sexy, human stuff. Or if they do, they have the decency to hide it from their kids." The movie's central joke is too old to be funny anymore: "surprise, I'm a dominatrix once the kids go to bed," was tired in 1993.

#hocuspocus
#mom?
#funnywheniwas9

I hated the obvious, lazy jokes that any comedy writer worth his/her union dues would find a way to refresh for us. For example, yuk yuk, there are outlandish dietary restrictions at the bake sale! "No sesame or soy. No nuts. And obviously no flour or sugar or dairy or salt." But what if, instead of reeling off the familiar list of no-no's, Christina Applegate had instead given out pre-approved recipe cards to the moms with stomach-churning ingredient combinations like Salmon Kefir Kisses and Choco-Chickpea-Chicken Bars?

The filmmakers didn't even have the decency to see this gag through to the actual bake sale scene. Yo, if you're going to set up the fascist pre-bake sale PTA meeting as the last goddamn straw for Mila Kunis, then please have the decency to give me a visual payoff with grim platters of quinoa cupcakes, gray mushroom muffins, and cauliflower cookies.

I hated the way the only parenting they showed was "Have a great day at school! I love you," and "Honey, you need to fix your own breakfast today." Why didn't we ever see children do the bananas shit that kids do that drive mothers insane???

I hated the us-versus-themness between warring factions of moms. UGH, could someone please take a closer goddamn look at the social mores of motherhood? We don't ORGANIZE against mothers who disagree with us. We don't have TIME. We don't give a FUCK. I know moms I don't like. I know moms I cannot STAND and who cannot stand ME. You know what we do when we see each other? Wave from afar and move the fuck along. 

The eventual peace between Mila and Christina Applegate, who does a fierce alpha bitch, doesn't make up for the fact that the film picked the most obvious characterization of "tight-assed sexless mom," and the most obvious characterization of "cool mom who fucks," and then immediately made them HATE EACH OTHER for NO REASON.  #overit #thatjokedoesntlivehereanymore

Remember in Pitch Perfect 2 how Anna Kendrick keeps trying to talk smack to the statuesque German singer and she keeps accidentally complimenting her? OK, so that's an example of taking the played-out woman-on-woman hostility dynamic and keeping it FRESH and SURPRISING.

I hated that the husbands were across-the-board awful. Lotharios and control freaks, all of them stunted and ungrateful. Goddamn it, Bad Moms, I get why Mila needed to get single early on in the movie so she could make googly-eyes and eventually googly-junk with the studly single dad. But you could have made Kristen Bell's husband be a basically nice guy who was trying to be helpful but still fucking up and not understanding how to support his wife. You could have fucking demonstrated some understanding of why being a mom is hard even when your husband is not a douche gremlin. It's hard even when your husband is kind and thoughtful, but he does it in a way that demands your attention when you're just fucking done giving things attention today.

I hated, hated, hated the way the movie "shows" moms that they "don't have to do so much!" The prescription for an entire generation's anxiety and despair around parenting? Don't make your kid's lunch; get Arby's instead! You're trying to do too much! Don't try to be perfect! And stop judging yourselves and each other! Because YOU have done this to YOURSELVES!

This movie stops a half a breath away from, "CALM DOWN, LADIES! DON'T GET HYSTERICAL ABOUT IT!" This movie is like one hair's breadth from asking if we're all on our periods.

I mean, fuck you too, Bad Moms.

You know what this movie is like? It's like if the guys who wrote the screenplay for The Hangover wrote a movie about three hotties - a wholesome blonde, an exotic brunette, and a fiery redhead, natch - who get sick of following all the suburban rules and start drinking and flirting and being generally awesome. And then they got a note from the studio saying, "Make them Moms."

Oh wait, what's that?

The guys who wrote the Hangover trilogy also wrote Bad Moms?

Seriously?

I mean.

FUCK YOU TOO, BAD MOMS.

How fucking dare you? You foxed in my henhouse, motherfuckers. You, two men who have never been mothers, served me up a largely unfunny, oversimplified, insulting portrayal of what you think mothers are, and who you think they should be. Shockingly, you think mothers need more d. BAFFLINGLY, y'all think we all need to stop caring so damn much about NUT ALLERGIES. With striking originality, you have declared to us that our choices are to be "good" (silently selfless until death) or "bad" (irresponsible and DTF).

You patronized and belittled the most important thing in my life, and you didn't even make me laugh about it, you fucking dicks.

I went to see this movie hoping that I would spend 2 hours with some funny, smart people who understood why my job is hard, hilarious, insane, bipolar, schizophrenic, honorable, gritty, fucking important.

Mostly, I feel ripped off. The movie treated parenting as a password to my pocketbook, a shibboleth that drove me to get my butt in the seat opening weekend. "A movie about moms? I'M a mom! I should go!" But once I was in there, I realized that Bad Moms is not really about moms, parenting, or marriages. It's girls gone wild. But only a little, and only in the safest of ways. These are moms, after all. They can't do anything REALLY bad.

There was one scene that felt real to me: the pizza place where one minute the moms are trading horror stories about how their kids are monsters, and in the next they are crying about how deeply they love them. THAT, friends, THAT is what this whole movie should have been - warm, silly insight into the complex, baffling illogic of a mother:

This is crazy. This is wonderful.
My kid is an asshole. My kid is a miracle. 

I wish they'd leave me alone. I miss my kids.

But we didn't get that movie. Instead, we got the movie equivalent of a treadmill on your birthday. It's ostensibly a present for you, but it's really about what someone else thinks is your problem.

Thanks, Bad Moms. 

As if I didn't have enough on my fucking plate, now I have to write a fucking screenplay.

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