Review | ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ Is Ineffectual Manipulative Rubble
At a certain point in the film, Kiki’s (Kristen Bell) mother, Sandy (Cheryl Hines) tells her daughter, “I have cancer. Heart cancer.” Then she goes on to state every possible terminal disease, in an attempt to counter her daughter’s grievances in front of a therapist. Watching A Bad Moms Christmas, or noticing the lack of apostrophe in the title can make you wonder whether you’ve developed one of such illnesses.
A Bad Moms Christmas is, no prizes for guessing, a sequel to Bad Moms. The original had certain ideas of irony even if, with the shortest of laughs, it took on the lofty standards against which women are constantly measured. The sequel also brings in the mothers of the trio, but fails to deliver the amount of laughs it last delivered.
The chief problem is that the film sticks to the larger outline, but not the details even if trying to churn up the same product. In Bad Moms, Amy (Mila Kunis) and her two friends, Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) had a common enemy in Christina Applegate’s Gwendolyn James. But the sequel replicates the original without a villain by inviting the mothers of Amy, Kiki and Carla on the eve of Christmas, literally doubling up the mom quotient. There is no combined cause, all the three women are fighting their individual battles with their mothers. If Amy has an annoyingly perfectionist mother in Ruth (Christine Baranski), Kiki’s mother Sandy (Cheryl Hines) clings too close for comfort, and Susan Sarandon plays the bohemian leftover, Isis, “like the terrorist organisation”.
Since the three titular characters are confined to their spaces with their respective mothers, their limited screen time together dissipates the very promise of the franchise. Christmas and the mothers invading the lives of the three friends are comedic sketches that are very tinny, and mostly so laboured that you roll your two eyes more than getting your 32 teeth out. The suggestion of a cash grab sequel is so brazen as if the writer-director duo, Scott Moore and Jon Lucas failed to meet women of real flesh and blood. Even the men and the kids are ignored and added, as per the convenience of lazy writing, making them as redundant as they come.
There is a satire hidden somewhere in the consumerism of Santa’s arrival, but it gets shushed into silence by all the infantile screaming and pushing by women who can’t deal with trappings of their suburban inferno.
A Bad Moms Christmas works neither as a photocopy of Bad Moms, nor does it induce the Christmas cheer. All you are left with is just ineffectual manipulative rubble.
(The writer is a journalist, a screenwriter, and a content developer who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. He tweets @RanjibMazumder)