Bad Moms 2

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Bad Moms 2Bad Moms 2 – aka A Bad Moms Christmas

Rated: MA 15+

Directors: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Writers: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Producers: Bill Block, Mark Kamine, Suzanne Todd

Stars: Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, Wanda Sykes, Peter Gallagher.

Is any situation funny just because people are drinking so much they steal, assault and create mayhem? If it is, it has to be well written with characters we have become fond of, which this film was not.

With an opening scene showing wholesale tinsel and bauble carnage (reminiscent of the start of The Hangover which was also written by this film’s writers/directors), we meet one of the “Bad Moms”, Mila Kunis as Amy, looking beautifully coiffed and made up no matter the time of day or night, who confesses to having “ruined Christmas”.Bad Moms 2

The theme of this movie – conflict between mothers and daughters – appears to be best summed up by Amy’s mother Ruth (Christine Baranski) who says loftily, “You’re a mom. Moms don’t enjoy, they give joy,” (although joy is not an emotion you would normally associate with her). Amy’s response, after a series of passive-aggressive encounters that escalate to overt rebellion, is to declare to her two fellow moms, “Christmas is supposed to be fun. Let’s take Christmas back!”

Showing little originality or creativity, the movie revisits the days leading up to what caused Amy’s apparent destruction of Christmas, with scant attempt to provide background for those viewers who may not have seen the first Bad Moms movie. For example, it isn’t initially clear what her relationship is with the hottie Jessie (Jay Hernandez). I thought he was her husband until someone mentions this will be the first Christmas for the children without their father, implying he’s dead. It isn’t until later we learn Amy has in fact divorced her husband, but not why, obviously because we should already know.

The other “Bad Moms” are also re/introduced: sweet yet repressed Kiki (Kristen Bell), married with three or maybe four kids, with an overly possessive mother (Cheryl Hines) who isn’t coping well following the death of her husband and who sees her daughter as a replacement companion.Bad Moms 2

By far the crudest yet most convincing of the three is Carla (Kathryn Hahn), a single mother of more mature years with a teenage son and a largely absent rocker mother, Isis (Susan Sarandon) who only turns up once every few years when she needs to borrow money. Strangely I most enjoyed the scenes with Carla at her day spa job. Her waxing of a visiting fireman/stripper (the incredibly buff and toned Justin Hartley) produced the most laughs, mainly because of its silly yet sweet spin on two people meeting and falling for each other in ridiculous circumstances. Kiki’s visit to the psychologist Dr Karl (Wanda Sykes) also stood out as one of the better crafted comic scenes.

Most of the movie is devoted to a series of expletive-laden shouting matches between the various mothers and daughters that rely on swearing instead of wit, interspersed with slow-motion montages showing the three Bad Moms getting drunk, abusive and stealing other people’s property because hey, that’s fun, isn’t it? Then the pace gets slower and the mood more serious as the various characters implode, explode, break down, wallow in regret before they reflect and reunite in a typically Americanised sentimental way.

While the preview audience was well lubricated with strong cocktails so were probably in the mood to be easily pleased, watching this film sober meant the crudity and charm-free sit-com direction were undiluted and much harder to swallow. Having to celebrate Christmas with these people would be a punishment.

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CHiPS

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Director: Dax ShepardCHiPS

Producers: Ravi D. Mehta, Dax Shepard, Andrew Panay, Rick Rosner

Written by: Dax Shepard

Based on: CHiPs TV series created by Rick Rosner

Starring: Dax Shepard, Michael Peña, Rosa Salazar, Adam Brody, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jessica McNamee, Kristen Bell, with Jane Kaczmarek, Maya Rudolph, Ed Begley Jr, and Josh Duhamel

The original television series of CHiPs (1977-1983), was an action ‘dramedy’ dealing with the daily crime fighting of the California Highway Patrol officers on their motor cycles. Two of its main characters were played by Erik Estrada (macho, trouble-pronue probationary Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello), and Larry Wilcox (strait-laced field training Officer Jonathan “Jon” Andrew Baker).

My memories of this TV show are vague as I only ever saw a few episodes, so I had little idea of how this updated cinema version would compare to its predecessor.

I will happily admit that I found the film to be a guilty pleasure. It was rude, profanity-laden, sexist and with an over-reliance on visual gags and nudity, and it will never win any awards for subtlety. But it was also quite funny and engaging, and in some strange way had its heart in the right place, especially with the depiction of the relationship between its lead characters.CHiPS

In a reversal of the original TV premise, Officer Jon Baker (Dax Shepard) is now the probationer. A beaten-up former pro motor biker, he is trying to put his life and marriage (to Kristen Bell’s character) back together. Baker is touchingly loyal to his ex-wife and desperately keen to make something of himself. His honesty and odd personality quirks, as well as a running gag based on his unusual reaction to household smells, makes him very appealing. He reminded me of Zach Braff’s character in the TV comedy Scrubs, with both actors sharing a goofy, endearingly naïve charm.

Castillo (Michael Peña) is now a cocky undercover Federal agent masquerading as Officer Francis “Frank” Llewellyn “Ponch” Poncherello, assigned to investigate a multi-million dollar heist that may be an inside job, inside the California Highway Patrol. Ponch is a bit sleazy yet still has some of the boyish charm on show in his earlier comic roles in Ant Man and The Martian.

It doesn’t give the plot away, such as it is, to know that Ponch doesn’t always obey the rules, and has little patience with his naïve rookie partner as he tries to uncover the criminal element within the CHiPs organisation. The plot of this film is not particularly strong or original, and the audience is kept entertained enjoying the visual and verbal humour on display between the two leads.CHiPS

There were many opportunities to showcase a range of stunts, and by enlisting renowned stunt performer Steve De Castro, plus pros and the best stunt riders for the trickiest and most spectacular manoeuvres, director Shepard ensured these aspects of the film were executed effectively. When Shepard’s character speeds along Californian highways and we get his point of view, the scenes are breathtaking, visceral and convincing, almost making me wish I could ride at all.

Cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen (The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible 3 and Transformers 1 and 2) made every action sequence zing, while Los Angeles was impressively utilised in the location scenes.

There were some humorous cameos from comic actors including Jane Kaczmarek and Maya Rudolph as senior police officers, and a brief stint from Josh Duhamel, but the movie belongs to Ponch and Jon and their budding bro-mance.

Bad Moms

GoMovieReviews Rating:
MA15+

Directors: Jon Lucas; Scott MooreBad Moms

Writers: Jon Lucas; Scott Moore

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Haln, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie Mumolo, Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony, David Walton, Clark Duke; Jay Hernandez.

I just had a Bad Mom moment.  Leaving my notebook in the cinema.  And not realising until I started drinking a glass of red wine and then fluffing in my handbag, looking for it.  That’s about the extent I related to Bad Moms.  The sense of panic.  The humiliation if someone had started reading my scribbly notes.  Like someone else finding your child and having to pick them up from a stranger…  Jeez, it’s like pulling teeth.

If you’re not a mother, relating to Bad Moms is difficult.

Ami (Mila Kunis) is trapped in a world of kids, work, looking after her infantile husband, PTA meetings and everything that life can throw at you.  When she finally gets knocked unconscious at her kid’s soccer match, to then be late (again) to the PTA meeting, and then be volunteered by everything-must-be-perfect super mom, Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), to be the ingredients police at the upcoming bake sale, it’s enough.

Ami decides she’s sick of trying to be the perfect mom.

Now, along with fellow mothers, Carla (Kathryn Haln) and Kiki (Kristen Bell), she decides it’s time to be… A Bad Mom.

Thank goodness for the comic relief of Kiki and her cheeky, loud-mouth antics.  It wasn’t that the acting was bad, there just wasn’t enough comic relief.

I had an expectation of many laugh-out-loud moments, and there were a few, but coming from Jon Lucas and Scott Moore as the writers and directors (the guys who co-wrote The Hangover I and Wedding Crashers) I expected there to be wider appeal.

I hear stories from my sisters and I can see how much pressure parents are under these days.  Women have to work and keep: home, family, kids and society in general happy.  Our mothers have worked hard for equal rights and now there’s this need to be able to do it all.  Perfectly.  I get that.  And Bad Moms is a surprisingly insightful film.

Watching the girls getting into it because they’re sick of having to be perfect was a lot of fun. But to me?  These girls needed sleep.  For a week.  So unlike The Hangover and The Wedding Crashers, I found this movie painful, and not in a funny way.

I can see a group of mums going to Bad Moms, to escape the house and kids for a couple of hours with glass of wine in hand and the relief that they’re not the only ones feeling the pressure of motherhood.  And I congratulate Bad Moms on shining a spotlight on what a modern-day mother has to go through.  But as a film, Bad Moms is made for a select audience.