Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bad Moms (Brockway0

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Bad Moms

In 2011, there was a groundbreaking comedy called "Bridesmaids." It worked precisely because the ladies depicted were expected to fulfill their roles as respected bridesmaids, but instead behaved rudely, spoofing social mores. That film was directed by Paul Feig and proved a breakthrough hit for comedienne Melissa McCarthy.

Now taking a cue from this film (as well as the recent titles of "Bad Santa", "Bad Grandpa" and "Bad Teacher") the directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have made "Bad Moms." Amy (Mila Kunis) is a harried mom with two kids: Jane (Oona Laurence) a school obsessed daughter and Dylan (Emjay Anthony) who is non-plussed. One afternoon Amy finds her sloppy husband Mike (David Walton ) engaging in cybersex with a girl on a webcam.

When visits her daughters' school, hot coffee goes in her face along with a carton of pasta and a student knocks her flat on a soccer field. At work, she is underappreciated by a pompous boss (Clark Duke). Last but certainly not least, a waspy and sadistic head of the PTA (Christina Applegate) forces her to attend a cold and militant school meeting. Applegate's character, Gwendolyn James, is the Cruella de Vil of the film.

Needless to say, Amy goes straight to a bar and orders up.

Though the premise is far from original, the dialogue is funny and the off-kilter humor does disarm in spite of itself. Kathryn Hahn in the role of Carla, steals the show with her glib, rude and crude lines which sound more over the top than anything ever said by Melissa McCarthy or Kristen Wiig.

There is one scene that is particularly funny involving a milquetoast Kristen Bell behaving like a male penis. Seeing is believing. Written discription does not do the 'skit'  justice.

This predictable comedy does better than expected for the simple fact that the ensemble actors play it straight and authentically. These ladies are gross around the edges but are never a gross out. The group never loses sight that they (despite the phallic veggies, the milk in the face and the cock obsessions) are all loving mothers.

The first half of the film is better than the second because our surprise is so fresh. The best segments have a jolting zany quality and the film is at its most effective as a series of loose cartoonish episodes, rather than a coherent story of an underdog fighting a villain. Mila Kunis is well handled and shows verve as does Kristen Bell in her single unsavory but sweetly delivered scene.

There is even an amusing understated turn by Martha Stewart serving jello shots in addition to the comic Wanda Sykes who delivers her trademark straight talk as a marriage counselor.

While the narrative story is molded from the excess cookie batter used in several Paul Feig / Kristen Wiig outings, there is spirit here. "Bad Moms" gives its formula its best slant without any cynicism. The straightman Amy and her transgressive friend Carla are both good moms because they have known what it feels like to be bad.

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