Blu-ray Review: A Bad Moms Christmas

By , Contributor
In 2016, moms across the world—presumably both "good" and "bad," depending on one's standards—united in a shared fantasy of misbehaving without consequence. Bad Moms was a hit thanks to its raunchy comedy directed, for a change, at female moviegoers. The gang is back for A Bad Moms Christmas, with Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) giving the finger to all the usual Christmas traditions. And this time, the moms' moms are visiting. Between boyfriends, kids, moms, dads, husbands, and daughters, this Bad Moms combines shades of Christmas Vacation, Meet the Parents, and a variety of other (better) films to tedious effect.

Yes, this outing gives Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon an excuse to tell a bunch of lewd jokes. But the problem is most of this territory was mined in the Bad Santa movies. At least the first Bad Moms had a wisp of character arc for its main trio, not to mention an actual objective. Amy, tired of being a prim and proper soccer mom, butted heads with busybody Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate, sadly reduced to a cameo here). But Christmas finds the gals raunchy it up with drink and drugs for no apparent reason, except to fulfill audience expectations.

I mean, Bad Santa 2 was also a decidedly inferior sequel but credit Kathy Bates for truly committing to her role as Willie Soke's mother—now that was a very bad mom. Baranski, Hines, and Sarandon (the latter of whom plays it closest to Bates' boozy Sunny Soke) are pretenders to the throne when it comes to uncouth parenting. And Bad Moms Christmas turns way sappy in a third act that essentially transforms the pic into a Lifetime Original about mother/daughter bonding. I wasn't particularly kind to Bad Santa 2 in my review, but after seeing Bad Moms Christmas attempt to cover similar terrain I have to concede that I'd rather see the misadventures of Willie and Sunny Soke if I'm in the mood for holiday-themed misanthropy.

Comparisons to other films would be beside the point if Bad Moms' jokes really landed. The first film was funny enough, but this one barely registers on the laugh-o-meter. Hines' Sandy, for instance, sits quietly in the corner of Kiki's bedroom watching her daughter and son-in-law have sex. Only after the act is Kiki aware of her presence, at which point Sandy proceeds to offer a critique of their performance. It's not funny because it's so far over the top no one could possibly relate to it—maybe if Sandy walked in on them and awkwardly blurted out some unwelcome "advice," but Christmas isn't that, ahem, subtle.

By the end you just know that the daughters will come to terms with their mothers' various ticks, flaws, and shortcomings. Returning writer-director team Scott Moore and Jon Lucas commit the cardinal sin of letting the laughs (however scant) dry up. There are a few offhanded chuckles (and a snarky bit involving Kenny G, playing himself and seemingly enjoying sending up his persona), but hopefully this is the last we see of the bad moms.

Even though A Bad Moms Christmas performed respectably at the box office ($130 million worldwide; down from original's $183 million haul), Universal Studios has skimped on Blu-ray extras. There's a six minute gag reel featuring the usual cut-ups, blown lines, and general goofiness. A selection of "Additional Scenes" (four minutes) is really just another round of outtakes. The Bad Moms technical crew performs in a silly music video, which (along with a couple of "red band" trailers) rounds up the supplements.

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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