Kunis plays Amy, a thinly-stretched thirtysomething mother with two kids — one a highly anxious overachiever and the other a stereotypical slacker in the making — who also happens to be married to an overgrown man-child who doesn't seem to notice that she's managing the entirety of their family affairs.
Bad Moms begins with Amy running around like a crazy person, trying to get her kids to school on time, and winding up with spaghetti all over her pantsuit before ultimately dragging herself to a PTA meeting.
The PTA — which, in this film, is a painted as a sort of fascist regime run by a single mean girl mom, Gwendolyn (portrayed by the fabulously funny Christina Applegate), and her two harpies — is getting schooled on all the things that can't be a part of the upcoming bake sale (namely: sugar, gluten, GMOs, fun, etc.) when Amy finally decides that damn it, she's had enough. She won't be taking this shit anymore. Amy stands up to Gwendolyn and walks out of the meeting, with the pasta sauce in her hair somehow looking more like smoothing serum than dried tomato paste. She manages to gain an acolyte in the process: Kiki, played by Kristen Bell, a stay-at-home mom of four whose whole life revolves around her kids and her micro-managing husband who, we fast find out, can't get hard but toes a hard line.
After spending all this time trying to make being a mom look hard, it wraps up by showing us that it can be so easy, if only women would just calm down.
By the end of the evening, Amy is transformed, and their little drunk trio has become a tight-knit clique. Amy — who becomes single after finding out her husband has been having an affair on the internet — decides that she's going fully rogue, allowing her kids to make breakfast for themselves (ooh!) and forcing them to do their own homework instead of doing it for them (ahh!). And of course, herein lies one of the huge problem with Bad Moms: what it assumes about good moms and how they micromanage family life.
To make matters worse, the low-hanging laughs that Bad Moms reaches for are barely titter-worthy. The scene in the trailer where Amy's friends are shocked that her "sexy bra" is boringly functional? That's about as funny as the film gets. Dialog alternates between lowbrow humor and platitudes about the perils of helicopter parenting, with intercuts of Kunis hugging her deeply awkward kids, looking more like their beautiful babysitter than a woman who birthed them.
It's an insulting portrait of motherhood — of parenthood in general — that amplifies the general mom-shaming trend that has beset us in recent years.
Jessie (Jay Hernandez) is a sexy widower who is apparently ready to get back out there, and all it takes is for him to tell Amy that she's a "good mom" before she pounces on him at the bar. They get busy, which I think we're supposed to interpret as Amy officially reclaiming her mojo. That ultimately translates to her running against Gwendolyn for the PTA presidency — and to liberating the other moms from the tyranny of trying to be a perfect mother.
In the end, a considerably more relaxed Amy — less one loser husband and plus a major dose of self-confidence — drops her kids off at school, leisurely waves at her former nemesis, and huddles up with her new besties, who have learned their own mom lessons along the way. The moral of this story, it would seem, is that there are no good moms or bad moms: There are just mothers, striving to do the best with what they have, and still trying to retain a sense of self beyond the realm of parenthood. There is some truth to that cliché, but not even that message can save Bad Moms from ringing overwhelmingly inauthentic to modern parenthood. After spending all this time trying to make being a mom look difficult, it wraps up by showing us that it can be so easy, if only women would just calm down and realize what's really important. It's oversimplification at best, and a patronizing moral that modern mothers definitely don't need, even in comedic form, at its very worst.
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