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BAD MOMS

badmomsDirected by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring Mia Kunis, Christina Applegate, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell

Amy (Mia Kunis) is a typical working mom, balancing 2 kids (3 if you count her husband), work, and the demands of after-school activities. Overworked to the point of exhaustion, she snaps when life brings her one bad day too many. She decides to just give up and embrace being a bad mom.

With help from her new friends, licentious single mom Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and quirky stay at home mom Kiki (Kristen Bell), she begins to prioritise herself and let her family fend for itself. This new found freedom soon brings her in conflict with PTA, and its over-controlling head Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) who seeks to bring Amy back to heel.

Bad Mom’s is at its best when… well…it’s moms are being bad (says it all in the title really). There is a chemistry between the cast members and it really shines in those moments when they indulge in reckless abandon, throw caution to the wind and let their freak flag fly.

Kunis takes the lead in this, a stable and easy to relate to figure to hang the whole concept from. It’s a solid performance, from constant downtrodden expression to defiant mom. Yet it is her two supporters that really make the film. Bell is delightfully off putting as the stay at home mom, breaking the tension with disquieting insights into her character and life, while Hahn runs full throttle as the liberated single mom. These three bring a pile of laughs to the screen with their antics. Christina Applegate, also provides an appropriate foil for this trio, as the uber-mom head of the PTA. That image of the perfect mom that the they are rebelling against, taken to a frightening extreme.

Despite it’s rather solid message of not burning yourself out in the chasing of an unobtainable ideal of perfection, it is in its exploration of this that the film dips to its weakest moments. When it attempts to do this, the tone shifts to preaching and the solutions it comes across are hackneyed, unearned and appear as if by magic. This formulaic approach sours things a little leaving a slight saccharine after-taste, but it is neither unexpected from the genre nor an extreme example of it. In the end the performances, great comedic timing, and on point jokes are what really matters and they are here in abundance.

The writing team for The Hangover bring a decent comic appeal to Bad Moms. It may drift to sickly sweet at times, but for the rest of the run it is raucous and hilarious.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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