view counter

Bad Moms Christmas

Three women try to take the stress out of the holidays in this raunchy comedy

© STX Entertainment Under-appreciated and over-burdened, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas.
     It’s the most wonderful time of the year — unless you’re a mother.
     Amy (Mila Kunis: Bad Moms) used to love Christmas, but becoming a mom has spoiled the season. Instead of celebrating the spirit of Christmas with family, she feels forced into shopping for people she barely knows, decorating the house so the neighbors won’t judge her and devolving into a heap of stress from worrying that she won’t make the perfect Christmas for her kids. 
     Amy is not alone. 
     Friends Kiki (Kristen Bell: The Good Place) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn: I Love Dick) are also feeling mothers’ holiday blues. While tying one on at the local mall, the three vow not to succumb to the pressures of Christmas.
     Their vows go out the window when each woman’s mother shows up for the holiday. Amy’s mom, Ruth (Christine Baranski: The Big Bang Theory), is a perfectionist devoted to upstaging and nitpicking her daughter. Kiki’s mom Sandy (Cheryl Hines: Curb Your Enthusiasm) has no boundaries. Carla’s mom, Isis (Susan Sarandon: Ray Donovan), is a chronic gambler arrived to hit up her daughter for money. 
     Forget Christmas. Can the three survive their mothers? 
     This movie is a bit more than a seasonal cash grab. It’s a step forward for feminism, proving that women can make underwhelming comedies just as well as men can. The script is as limp as any you’d find in a Seth Rogen or Will Ferrell movie. The jokes as predictable and as yawn-inducing. The performances as lazy. 
     The story could work. Women do endure immense pressure to deliver perfect holiday parties, presents and activities for their families. Instead of mining that idea, directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (who directed Bad Moms and wrote the Hangover movies) prefer cheesy sex scenes, like giving Santa Claus a lap dance and shoving an enormous prosthetic down the shorts of an exotic male dancer. 
     The performances are also fairly listless. Hahn and Bell are skilled comedians, but they have little to work with. Kunis, however, seems capable of only widening her eyes and occasionally yelling.
     The older generation fares slightly better. Baranski, a seasoned pro, wrings laughs out of hackneyed dialogue by sheer force of will. Sarandon plays up her goofy character for a few slapstick gags. 
     Women-led comedies have had a bit of a renaissance in the last decade, but poorly written and performed films know no gender. 
Poor Comedy • R • 104 mins.
 
New this Week
 
Daddy’s Home 2
     Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad (Will Ferrell) have found their way as co-parents. Dad and stepdad, the two wildly different men now work as a team. 
     The foundations of their relationship are tested when their fathers come to town for the holidays. Brad’s father (John Lithgow) is a sensitive sweetheart. Dusty’s father (Mel Gibson) is a chauvinistic alpha male. Dad and stepdad feel their bond fraying as their fathers interrupt their dynamic.
     Another year, another lazy Will Ferrell comedy. 
Prospects: Bleak • PG-13 • 100 mins.
 
Murder on the Orient Express
     Master detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) needs a vacation. The in-demand consulting detective is worn out with bodies and criminals. So he books a passage on the Orient Express, a lavish luxury train.
     When a passenger is killed, Poirot is pressed into duty to solve the mystery and save riders and crew from the killer in their midst. 
     Based on mystery master Agatha Christie’s most famous book, Murder on the Orient Express is a familiar tale. You may already know whodunit. But revealing the murderer is only half the fun in this twisting ensemble piece that features brilliant characters and exotic locales. 
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 114 mins.