“I’m trying to be more responsible and shit.”
After last year’s unexpected success, Amy, Kiki and Carla are back to work, creating the perfect Christmas for their families by rebelling against the expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas, in the holiday themed sequel A Bad Moms Christmas. But this time around they are going to have to deal with a bit more baggage as their moms are stopping by for a fun, holiday surprise.
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn reprise their roles in what can only be described as a quickly thrown together sequel that bears little to the original. Gone is the originality, the magic and even the humor, replaced by painfully forced one-liners, a Santa dance-off and a trio of cliché, overdone (grand)mothers.
The film starts out much like the original with Kunis’ Amy serving as narrator. We first catch a glimpse of her sitting amongst the remains of a complete Christmas catastrophe as decorations lay in ruin everywhere and a camel struts through the living room. But this isn’t the beginning of the story, we are quickly taken back a couple of days to where it all started.
The journey we go on this time around is straightforward and bland. Overly dramatic situations are tackled with overly vulgar and irrational responses. Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon join the cast as the women’s mothers, all bringing a unique and overly tense situation to the already hectic chore known as Christmas. Striving for perfection, companionship and rebellion respectively, the women help to propel the noteworthy cast; however, their overall affect on the story itself is mild at best.
But where A Bad Moms Christmas misses the mark most rests within the originality of the script, written by co-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (the duo who struggled to pen a worthy follow-up to their their 2009 hit The Hangover). While there are a few moments of greatness (most notably during an early mall raid and later when scene stealer Wanda Sykes gives counseling advice to a distressed Kiki), the laughs are few and far between - and more so, the “punches” lack the universal appeal that helped make the original so relatable.
As the (grand)mothers continue their prodding, you can’t help but realize that the powerful, independent women that we fell in love with last year are nothing more than soft pushovers. Instead of staking their claim on their own homes, they whittle at the sight of their mothers - a troublesome step back in comparison to their no-holds-bar exterior. Granted the story itself wouldn’t exist without some sort of setback, but you have to question whether a sequel was really necessary.
Instead of creating humorous situations that many encounter, Lucas and Moore opt to stay with the bigger picture, focusing instead on the original Russian nutcracker, long nights of caroling and the desire to have the most festive house on the block. Where the original film kept things in the “ridiculous but entirely possible” realm, here the need for reality is straight up nonexistent. As a result the film falls into a pit of clichés and stereotypes, unable to resurface to give it the heart, wit and tact it so strongly deserves.
Due to its seasonal ties we will all see A Bad Moms Christmas. While moms may connect to it on some level, most will struggle to get past the ridiculousness that lies within the overly tame story. You might leave having enjoyed your time, but that will be more a reflection on your Christmas cheer, not the quality of film you just saw.