A Bad Moms Christmas
Directed by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Screenplay by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn

Review by: Nick Schofield

A Bad Moms Christmas movie posterSequels always struggle, especially in separate genres. A Bad Moms Christmas, despite its flaws, is an exception to this rule.

Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn return as Amy, Kiki, and Carla in this raunchy, irreverent, and profanity-filled comedy. In response to their mothers’ unexpected holiday drop-ins, they decide it’s time to blow up motherhood again. 

Ruth (Christine Baranski) is an uptight matriarch wanting the best Christmas for her grandkids. Sandy (Cheryl Hines) is overbearing and invasive. Isis (Susan Sarandon), is a free-spirited grifter who leeches off her daughter. And yes, they do make an ISIS joke, if you were wondering.

Amy and Ruth lock horns and take up most of the screen-time. Amy fights Ruth’s expectations for what Christmas should be versus what Amy wants for her family. Kiki and Carla also struggle with their mothers–Kiki wanting space from Sandy, and Carla wanting a deeper connection with Isis. 

These three story arcs resolve at the end, but I feel they muddy the film’s spirit. There’s less fighting against the status quo and more time spent working out relationships. The draw of the Bad Moms films, after all, is rebellion against cultural expectations. While this isn’t a bad transition, it’s interesting. I also encourage you to take this point with a grain of salt. The interpersonal dynamics may still express that rebellious spirit, but I could be missing it because of my perspective.

Elsewhere A Bad Moms Christmas excels. The casting, for example, is spot-on. Baranski is her character, and Hines and Sarandon nail their performances. These great casting decisions lead to humorous and dynamic interactions between characters that earn your laugh every single time.

Much of this movie lands its comedic delivery, but there are places where it falls short. Forced character interactions, replayed tropes, and unrelated comedic bits are worthy more of a cringe than a laugh. The drunken grocery store antics from the first film don’t land as well inside a busy mall. Hines’ character also makes you wince with hypochondria induced by difficult emotion. It’s funny at first, and then it gets old quick. But like so many other comedy films out there, there is quality in the jam-packed quantity.

Hahn operates as the comedic engine for the film. Her over-the-top hilarity keeps you rolling in your seat. As well, other characters manage to slip in knee-slapping bits that you don’t see coming. Amy’s father, Hank (Peter Gallagher) operates in the background so subtly and catches you off-guard every single time. Whether it was improv or scripting that delivered some of this film’s greatest hits, there’s real comedic gold hidden in them thar’ hills.

Watch It! Overall, A Bad Moms Christmas hits more than it misses. Even though the ending wraps up tidy (this is a holiday movie, after all) it’s still an enjoyable ride. I definitely laughed harder at this movie than I did the original.  At the very least, you can use this movie as a palate cleanser between reruns of A Christmas Story or It’s a Wonderful Life.

Nick Schofield
Nick is a writer based outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Besides being a marketing professional, he spends too much of his time tweeting about dinosaurs and watching excess amounts of television. Find him on Twitter: @boyjurassic

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