Most comedy franchises wait until part three to do a Christmas movie: Vacation, Harold and Kumar, Friday. Only Ernest Saved Christmas right in his second movie, and that’s good company to be in. A Bad Moms Christmas is actually two sequel ideas in one. Meeting the Bad Moms’ moms could be its own sequel, and perhaps deserved its own focus, but remember at one time they were actually going to do Bad Dads. This is way better for society.
Like the original Bad Moms, there is such a positive message in A Bad Moms Christmas that the fairly generic comedy is good enough. What begins as “don’t make moms do everything for Christmas themselves” takes a backseat to individual familial conflicts, but those are valid too.
Amy’s (Mila Kunis) mother Ruth (Christine Baranski) insists all her elaborate (and expensive) Christmas plans are about giving joy to the kids but it’s all superficial. No one gets true joy from all those shenanigans. They are only distractions so Ruth never has to face having an actual emotional bond. It even extends to distracting the kids so much that they never end up confronting their own parents for ignoring their real needs. This is obvious, but don’t worry, it is stated explicitly by the end.
At one point Ruth claims all her festivities are to reassure her grandchildren after their parents divorced. No, it’s Ruth who’s uncomfortable with the divorce. This is her distraction. When Ruth calls Amy’s bluff, I admire Amy for not backing down. And I’m sorry if I don’t feel that the kids truly love their grandmother the one time they stick up for Ruth. Ruth gives them Xboxes and iPhones. She’s buying their affection, so fuck you entitled brats.
Kiki (Kristen Bell)’s mother Sandy (Cheryl Hines) is so needy she’s invading her daughter’s bedroom. Boundaries are valid, and even at her most valid, Kiki only asks Sandy to do one thing without her. Not do everything without her daughter, just find one thing. It’s good for Sandy too to have her own separate life.
Carla (Kathryn Hahn)’s mother Isis (Susan Sarandon) shows up unannounced to see what she can get. Carla actually wants her mother around more, so she’ll take whatever time she can have and enjoy getting in trouble together (although their schemes become criminal and less amusing on behalf of innocent victims.) Of the three Bad Moms, Carla actually has the healthiest attitude towards her mom. She knows she can’t count on her so she’s not pretending Isis can be something she’s not.
Look, this isn’t deep but most audiences aren’t that in touch with their feelings. Most people just say, “That’s the way family is” and never speculate that it could be better. They need this. If a mainstream movie can make them think about the dysfunctional relationships they take for granted as “the way it is,” then good. If Santa lap dances and naughty gingerbread jokes are what get them to hear the message, I’m fine with that.
The casting could be more imaginative. At least switch some of the grandmothers around. Casting Baranski as the bitch, Sarandon as the wild child and Hines as the well-meaning helicopter mom are completely obvious. And the characters are only types, not full-bodied human beings: the bitch, the neurotic and the burden on her own daughter.
Unfortunately, pairing each Bad Mom off with her own mom separates the three original moms for much of the movie. They each have their own separate subplot and only meet for the occasional montage in a mall or at Skyzone. They could develop the connection between the three grandmothers more too. They only have two scenes of any substance together, aside from dinner table crowd scenes.
As a pure sequel to Bad Moms, it is nice to see a few characters again, although some of the original film’s antagonists deserve more than one scene. What about their moms? They could explain a lot. It’s nice that Amy and Jesse (Jay Hernandez) are still happy together, and Ruth’s racist assumptions alone should be enough to get her banned from visiting.
I mean, it’s no Girls Trip but the original Bad Moms was no Girls Trip. They don’t all have to be Girls Trip. How many dude bro franchises are there? Women can have more.