3 out of 4 stars
The “Bad Moms” are back and they’ve turned the sacred Trinity of the Christmas season into what they know best – profanity, partying and trying to get their hands on a certain male body part.
Mia Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn took over the PTA a few years ago in “Bad Moms,” so now they have their sights set on redefining something much bigger: the holiday season, which feels their wrath in “A Bad Moms Christmas.”
Very little has changed with the ladies since last year’s “Bad Moms” grossed more than $184 million at the worldwide box office off a $20 million budget that guaranteed they’d be back for a sequel. Amy (Kunis) is happily divorced and dating single-dad hunk Jessie (Jay Hernandez), while Carla (Hahn) spends her days as a genital waxer and her nights trying to find Mr. Right, but settles for Mr. Wrong. Kiki (Bell) is still scheduling sex with her husband around the TV show “Blue Bloods.”
If you liked “Bad Moms,” you’ll really like, but not love, “A Bad Moms Christmas” because it delivers on your expectations but falls short as the ultimate girl power standard of “Bridesmaids.” It’s easy to compare Kunis, Hahn and Bell to another famous trio who loved to get drunk, make bad decisions and hook up: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and El Helms from ‘The Hangover.”
“A Bad Moms Christmas” isn’t as funny as the first “Hangover,” but it pummels the rest of the franchise easily. Sequels almost never live up to the original, but it’s not the case here because Kunis, Hahn and Bell are raunchier, drunker and well, hornier, than they were in the original.
It’s like Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who directed and wrote “Bad Moms,” wanted to see how far they could go, so they had the moms go to the mall, where they get hammered, give Santa a lap dance and steal a Christmas Tree from Foot Locker instead of shop. Their raunchy and extremely witty and over-the-top antics, which extend to having their kids unknowingly talk about sex, make the audience laugh, and more importantly, cheer for them, especially after the moms make a pact.
This Christmas, the moms are taking a break. No trimmings, no neatly wrapped presents, no lavish parties or yard decorations and no dinner will be Chinese takeout.
It’s a fantastic plan – until their doorbells ring and in walk their moms who all have a much different take on the holiday season.
Amy’s mom, Ruth (Christine Baranski), Carla’s mom Isis (Susan Sarandon) and Kiki’s mom, Sandy (Cheryl Hines), complement their daughters perfectly and inject another level of humor that was absent in the first film.
Ruth is a control freak diva to Amy’s free spirit, as she believes Christmas week should be spent spending thousands of dollars on over-the-top yard display (think National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation) and hiring Kenny G for her personal party.
To Isis – a trailer-trash degenerate gambler who rarely sees her daughter and grandson- Christmas may as well be any Friday night, as long as it is spent partying with male strippers while consuming as much alcohol and pot as possible.
And then there’s Sandy, who thinks it’s normal to watch Kiki have sex with her husband while wearing pajamas with Kiki’s face plastered all over them. She even tells Kiki she has bubonic plague so Kiki won’t leave her side.
The beauty is Ruth, Isis and Cheryl have no boundaries – nothing is off limits. The battle between the moms and their moms for control over Christmas turns the 104-minute film into pure comedy, a barrage of filthy jokes, hysterically awkward moments and raunchy sexual innuendos.
“A Bad Moms Christmas” hits theaters just 15 months after “Bad Moms,” which is a remarkably short turnaround for a sequel, and more than six weeks before Christmas Day.
Still, for anyone who has ever had a mom who takes over your house around the holidays, “A Bad Moms Christmas” is one gift you’ll want to open early.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.