WARNING: The following contains many spoiler alerts for the film Bad Moms and has frank descriptions of the movie’s very adult content.
You can spend over $10 on a movie ticket to learn that American culture is at its nadir. Or you can believe me, because I have seen it in the form of a ridiculously bad film now raking it in at the box office.
The movie in question: Bad Moms.
Already I can hear legions of ladies groan, because from what I can tell, women love this film. During the showing I caught, I was one of maybe five males in the theater. We men mostly sat still in our seats while the aforementioned legions laughed uproariously.
But it was this very fact—that women – traditionally the last bastion of civility in any society – were cheering and applauding appalling behavior—that convinces me we’ve hit bottom.
In the film the talented Mila (“That 70s Show”) Kunis is the mother of two middle school aged children and married to a man she calls her “third child.” In her quest to be the perfect, “I can do and have it all,” mom, she feels tremendous pressure because she tries to do too much. Although she is officially only part time, she routinely works well over 40 hours per week. She fixes her perfectly able children and husband breakfast, makes them super healthy lunches, does her kids’ special class projects for them (including the making of an impressive papier-mâché head of Richard Nixon), and is an active participant in the school PTA.
This organization is run by control freak Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), whose partners in actual crime are Stacy (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Vicky (deftly played by relative newcomer Annie Mumolo).
Things start to change when Amy walks in on her half-naked husband engaging in online sex.
“Oh, honey,” Amy coos, unaware. “I’ve always wondered what type of porn you’re into!”
She says this seriously, with a big smile on her face as she comes around the desk to see what is on his computer. “Wow,” she continues, “she has a big [pubic region]” before realizing the woman we are all seeing on the screen is not a picture or previously recorded video but a woman whose image is being live streamed into their home.
She kicks the husband out and the next day drives their children to school in his prized muscle car rather than her staid minivan. And instead of fixing them their usual healthy lunches, she tosses them bags filled with sandwiches from a fast food chain.
Gwendolyn and her crew are offended at this display of individualism and stand in judgment, of course, but their reaction to the junk food is nothing compared to what happens at that afternoon’s abruptly called PTA meeting, which every mother (and it’s only mothers who belong to this school’s PTA) is expected to attend.
During it, Gwendolyn announces that at the upcoming bake sale, the sold items must not contain gluten, sugar, nuts, soy, or anything that makes baked goods worth having. Each item has to be home made, and each woman is expected to make a lot.
When Gwendolyn chooses Amy to lead the mothers in charge with enforcing her diktats, Amy – who has had a really bad day – basically says, “What? Why me?” The PTA maven responds, “That’s what you get for being late.” Then Amy does the unthinkable. She tells Gwendolyn, “No.” She is tired of trying to do it all, because she can’t.
She retires to a local watering hole where oversexed single mom Carla (Kathryn “Crossing Jordan” Hahn) is drowning her sorrows. Next Kiki (Kristen Frozen Bell), the mother of four shows up to tell Amy how much she admired her stand at the PTA meeting.
Naturally this leads to their bonding over copious amounts of alcohol that evening. In turn this leads to their spending ever more time with one another and less time with their families or, in the case of Amy, at her job.
Of course Amy’s defiance has earned her the bitter enmity of Gwendolyn, who uses her formidable power and influence to keep our heroine’s daughter off the school soccer team. This leads the daughter to claim Amy is the worst mom in the world because if she doesn’t play soccer and doesn’t start, she won’t get into an Ivy League school. (Oh, no!)
Amy decides to fight fire with fire by running against Gwendolyn for PTA president. She holds a meet-the-candidate night at her home, to which almost only one guest shows, because her opponent has decided to host her own event catered by Martha Stewart herself. (The only reason the one mother came was because Carla threatened to bed the husbands of anyone who didn’t attend. Funny!)
But when Amy and her guests start posting pictures of how drunk they are on social media, the other mothers ditch Gwendolyn’s dull soirée and make a beeline for the competing party.
Soon women are vomiting in bushes, squatting to relieve themselves in the driveway, and making the similarities between the necks of liquor bottles and the look and function of a certain male body part all too evident. And Carla shows she’s not just oversexed for men.
At the end of the party, Carla has used Amy’s phone to text handsome widower Jessie (Jay Suicide Squad Hernandez), saying it’s from Amy, who allegedly wants a “bootie call.” He dutifully shows up and provides the requested servicing. A real knight in shining armor, this guy.
Having witnessed her rival’s party and knowing the election hangs in the balance, Gwendolyn and company sneak into the school that night and plant marijuana in Amy’s daughter’s locker. Of course it is found the next day. After leveling the appropriate punishment on the girl, and now all alone in his office, the principal admiringly looks at the baggie of planted joints, saying, “That girl rolls a tight J.” Hilarious stuff.
Around this time, Amy goes to counseling with her husband Mike. Wanda Sykes, in a funny if foul mouthed turn as a marriage counselor, says she believes “every marriage can be saved.” But after an argument inspired by Mike’s complaint that his wife hasn’t provided oral sex in many a moon erupts, Sykes’ character says she was wrong. This marriage cannot be saved. The couple agrees to divorce.
To put the cherry on top of a really bad day, Amy’s cretin doofus of a boss fires her. When Amy returns home, both her children have decided that Mike – truly a loser of a father if ever there was one – is a better, more fit parent and go to live with him.
Naturally this all happens in the hours before the PTA election at the school gym, which Amy decides to boycott because she’s too depressed.
But just when it looks like Gwendolyn’s reign of terror will continue, Kiki and Carla forcibly take her to the gym, where she gives a speech that wins the day.
Weeks later the children are naturally happy and well-adjusted. Amy’s dumb boss realizes he can’t run the company without her and begs her to come back. And Jessie and Amy are regularly having extra-marital sex. Of course it’s “amazing,” and Jessie makes Amy’s dreams comes true by asking if they can do a particular sexual act … again.
Besides the above there are the players’ musings about which orifice a female character has expelled gas from. And the comment of one lady who says she normally doesn’t desire sodomy but would make an exception with Jessie.
If the movie’s goal was to show women can be just as raunchy, lewd, debauched, foul, and ill-behaved as men, it accomplishes that in spades. But if it is meant to show, as one reviewer put it, “the absurdities of Perfect Mom culture,” that message gets lost in an awful lot of terrible, unfunny behavior.
And I realize that’s not the point. The point is to give stressed out mothers a chance to have a girl’s night out and laugh at the sometimes farcical nature of their lives. But, really, were two male screenwriters—previously responsible for Wedding Crashers and The Hangover movies—the best choices to bring the current feminine zeitgeist to the silver screen? And are there really that many women trying to be Perfect Moms?
And even if so, did these women have to look as cretinous and shallow as their male counterparts? And this is really saying something because in Bad Moms, there is not a single admirable male character. Even supposedly good guy Jessie blithely commits adultery with Amy in her home while the children are presumably there and while she is, in any event, most definitely still married to her husband.
There are a lot of good reasons for overworked and super-stressed moms to have a girls’ night out. Bad Moms isn’t one of them.