By Jack Dignan
Depending on what country you live in, this film could have a variety of different titles. Here in Australia, we like to keep things simple, appropriately titling it Bad Moms 2, as the heading of this article implies. Overseas, things are different. In Italy, the title translates to Bad Moms 2 – Much Worse Moms, which, personally, I think we should’ve gone with globally. Or, in Lithuania it’s Bad Moms and their Humour. Another classic. Poland even has it titled Mummy 2: How To Survive Christmas, which, sadly, isn’t a Christmas themed sequel to the Tom Cruise Mummy film from earlier this year.
There are so many titles. So many great ones. However, if you’re over in the United States, first of all I’m so sorry. Secondly, Bad Moms 2, or as the Spanish say Christmas of Rebellious Mothers, is titled something very different. Something very… fitting. It’s titled A Bad Moms Christmas. Why is this so fitting, you ask? And why have I spent over 100 words discussing this film’s hilarious overseas title translations? I’ve done this because it all makes sense. If you heard the title without any prior knowledge, you’d expect to see A Bad Moms Christmas rocking up in the straight to DVD aisle, and having seen the film, it probably should have.
This film is remarkably average. I feel like I’ve said that so many times this year, but we’re now into the beginnings of November and it still rings true. 2017 has been the year of predominately mediocre movies, and Bad Moms 2 continues this trend. I enjoyed the first Bad Moms. It wasn’t anything fantastic, nor anything I’ve ever felt the need to come back to, but for what it was, it was a fun and sweet tribute to the hard working passion of mothers everywhere. Bad Moms 2 isn’t. It looses the heart and replaces it with close ups of a mother-daughter duo both grinding on the daughter’s new boyfriend. It’s wild, and not always in a good way.
Very Bad Mummies 2, as the Russians call it, is more of the same, except, in a near identical plot to the upcoming Daddy’s Home 2, we follow our three protagonists from the first film, Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn), as they’re prepping for the holiday season. Things couldn’t get worse. And once again, they’re fed up with playing by the rules. It’s time to strike back against Christmas, but their plans are foiled when all of their parents arrive for one incredibly awkward Christmas reunion, and our protagonists are forced to face their family head on.
With an even bigger over-reliance on slow motion hallway shots and over-exposed camera work, this is a festive disaster of the highest degree. Kind of. I mean, it’s certainly better than Office Christmas Party, last year’s raunchy seasonal comedy, which, fittingly enough, was also conceived by Bad Moms 2 writer-director duo Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. The plot here is ridiculous and under-developed. Not much happens, outside of the frustratingly simplified character arcs, and when it does, the main plot elements always fall flat in the humour department. Bad Moms 2’s biggest jokes never work. It’s the smaller, subtler humour that worked best.
You can’t discredit this cast from trying. Occasionally, it feels as though they’ve only returned due to contractual obligation, or at least a hefty paycheck (that still couldn’t afford the filmmakers lessons on how to change your camera’s ISO levels), but for the most part, the performances pull this thing through. None of the grandparent characters, played by Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski and Cheryl Hines, were all that enjoyable to watch. And I don’t mean that in an intentional way. They’re meant to be annoying, but it’s meant to be funny annoying. Instead, they’re just irritating.
Cheryl Hines and Kristen Bell are standouts amongst the cast, but it’s Bell who does more of the heavy lifting. Her reactions to her mother’s invasive persona are hysterical, but unfortunately, as a whole, this movie just failed to work. The first isn’t great, but it is by comparison to its follow-up. You can have a good time here, no doubt about it, but it’s not nearly as good of a time as a film titled Good and Crazy Mothers 2 (in Romania) should be.
2 1/2 Stars
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