★★★☆☆

A Bad Moms Christmas,” sequel to the 2016 film “Bad Moms,” released Nov. 1, is a relatable comedy sure to leave audiences both anticipating and dreading the holiday season. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the comedy depicts the annual struggle of three moms attempting to make Christmas perfect for their kids — while suffering the less-than-perfect reality of what it takes to make this happen.

Centering on the initial film’s ensemble of “bad moms” — Amy, played by Mila Kunis, Kiki, played by Kristen Bell, and Carla, played by Kathryn Hahn — “A Bad Moms Christmas” chronicles the transformation of the mothers’ holiday stress into a determination to reclaim Christmas for themselves. The trio’s motivation to host the perfect holiday is motivated by the arrival of their own mothers. After all three grandmothers show up and disrupt their daughters’ lives, the sanity of the moms quickly falls apart as they try and figure out how to cope.

IMBD

Amy’s mom, played by Christine Baranski, is overbearing and full of unrealistic expectations; Kiki’s mom, played by Cheryl Hines, has no sense of boundaries and even frequently wears clothing with her daughter’s face on it, while Carla’s mom, Susan Sarandon, is a rebellious drifter who seems to only visit her daughter when in need of money. The film dramatically unfolds as each “bad” mom attempts to deal with her own mother without sacrificing the joy of Christmas.

The primary strength of “A Bad Moms Christmas” lies in its relatability, which is anchored in the realistic depiction of the responsibilities that moms have during the holiday season. Kunis’ character, Amy, exclaims: “I’m a huge ball of stress from Christmas to New Year’s!”

The film also succeeds in portraying the authentic friendship between the three protagonists. The moms are undoubtedly more focused on their families than on their friendship, but when they are together — decorating Christmas trees and dancing with a mall Santa, Christmas shopping or simply drinking away their stress — their sharing and joking is comical and a wonderful demonstration of female friendship.

The impressive relatability and comedy of this film can be attributed to the incredible performances of the cast. Two particularly notable performances were those of Sarandon and Baranski, both of whom hit the nail on the head in playing their roles of unwelcome, overbearing mothers. Peter Gallagher, who played Amy’s father Hank, also injected a dose of charm into the film — on the rare occasion that his wife took a pause from speaking.

Although hilarious, the mother-daughter relationships portrayed in the film did have some unrealistic aspects that detracted from the film’s accessible message. For example, Kiki’s mother admits to sitting quietly in her daughter’s room each night and watching her fall asleep, and even to knowing details of Kiki’s sexual relationship with her husband. Her over-exaggerated nature attempts to come across as comedic but ultimately falls flat.

Another case is Amy’s mother, who acts at times incomprehensibly stern in a manner that seems unrealistic, particularly considering the loving nature of her husband and the laidback lifestyle of her daughter.

Arguably the most frustrating part of the film is the continuous buildup of anger without a notable climax. There are constant mother-daughter quarrels, particularly between Amy and her mother, but there is not a moment where the audience truly gets the satisfaction of a conflict between the characters, despite the film’s plot seemingly building up to a point of dispute. This lack of resolved tension is out of balance with the over-the-top nature of the rest of the film. However, viewers do get the satisfaction of seeing the “bad moms” begin to understand and then repair their relationships with their mothers.

“A Bad Moms Christmas” is satisfying because it is purely comedic and does not masquerade as more than it is; its goal is light comedy, and that is exactly what it delivers. The film does not do more than scratch the surface with relation to weighty subject matter, but this allows for unencumbered laughter and holiday excitement. The film delivers the laughter and cheer that make for a Hallmark holiday movie, but with the added punchiness of the lead cast of comics. The film’s directors, Lucas and Moore, have expressed their interest in continuing the “Bad Moms” series, and if the sequels are at all reminiscent of “A Bad Moms Christmas,” they will leave viewers feeling uplifted.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*