I’m guessing a lot of critics will mention the remake of Ghostbusters when reviewing this, since that’s the last comedy that had female protagonists. A better comparison would be last years Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Both movies went for the Judd Apatow style humor, showing the girls can be as raunchy as the boys. Both movies also suffered by not having enough laughs. Just having characters drinking, partying, and cursing doesn’t equal funny. You need to create humorous scenarios. Now, an example of a scene in which this movie knocked it out of the park, is the popular one you see part of in the trailers. The three moms go walking through a grocery store in slow motion, as they wreak havoc on anything in their path. What you don’t see is just how brilliant that scene is. The slow motion thrashing of items, while some hip hop is being played, has been done. But the things they do….pouring milk and Froot Loops into their mouths, making chocolate milk and pouring it down the pie hole, and then stopping right in the middle of all the shenanigans to oggle a cute baby. But for every funny scene like this there are 10 that fall flat.
One problem is the three mothers. None of them are likable, or believable. Mila Kunis is the star. She was great on That 70s Show. She was fine as the love interest in Ted. Yet in this, she just doesn’t look like the mother of a teenage daughter. She still looks….12! Now, my girlfriend felt the problem was that Kunis was too good looking for her to seem relatable to real moms that the studio is hoping to appeal to. I wondered why they made her character do the kids’ homework. How idiotic is that? Sure, the huge bust of Richard Nixon is a funny visual, but that’s not only cheating, it makes it hard to feel any sympathy for her plight. If being a working mother that’s dealing with a husband that acts like a kid, taking kids to school, soccer games and PTA meetings, as well as doing their homework…well, she’s the one that’s the idiot.
Kristen Bell plays Kiki, a woman that is homeschooling all her kids, and is made fun of by the snooty moms.
I was thrilled with Kathryn Hahn being in the cast. She’s a comedic genius. The problem is how they wrote her character. She was already a “bad mom” from the start. It would’ve been much more interesting to have her be a normal, PTA mom worrying about her kids (similar to the character she played in Captain Fantastic a few weeks ago), who when she does go bad, gets really bad.
PTA president Gwendolyn is played well by Christina Applegate, but she’s just the caricature of a nasty woman. At least her friends have some funny lines. They’re played by Annie Mumulo (Joy, Bridesmaids, and the underrated Kathryn Hahn film Afternoon Delight). The other friend is played by Jada Pinkett Smith, who has the perfect blend of nastiness and humor. She has one X-rated line that’s laugh out loud funny.
The usually funny Clark Duke (Hot Tub Time Machine) isn’t given much to do as Kunis’ boss at a hip coffee joint.
I’ve often complained that these types of comedies are just so far fetched. If you have some believability, it works better with the punchlines. Instead, we have to believe Gwendolyn would plant drugs in a kid’s locker, and right in front of her friends. And when it’s revealed that she did it, why aren’t the cops called?
An example of how things like this can be done to brilliant effect in a comedy, take Election. Matthew Broderick, with the best of intentions, rigs an election so the nice kid can beat out the snotty one (played by Reese Witherspoon). The results cost him his job. But in this movie, she can just drive off in her Range Rover for a party on her private jet. Now, I understand that it’s probably bad to compare this movie to one of the most interesting, darkest comedies ever made (and made by a two-time Oscar winner). Not everything has to be Oscar caliber, but as I’m writing this review, I’m watching two of the cast members being interviewed on The Talk, and host Julie Chen can’t stop saying how great this movie is, and how funny it is. Sure, a lot of talk show hosts kiss up to the guests, but with that amount of praise…it’s safe to say she loved the film. It was shocking to hear, since my girlfriend and I were really disappointed.
There was a scene when Kunis tries to explain to her daughter that if they get divorced, it isn’t her fault. The child responds with, “Why would it be my fault?”
The mom replies, “I know, it’s not.”
That’s good stuff. Yet then when we see her driving the ex-husbands prized Camaro, we wonder…why if he’s moved out, does she still have his car? The filmmakers don’t care. They’re just throwing everything on the wall and hoping some of it sticks. I suppose they feel F-bombs every five seconds equal comedy. And, just who are the guys behind this? The writers of the two bad Hangover films — Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
It gets an extra star for some touching closing credits that show the stars with their moms, talking about motherhood (although I wonder where Clark Duke’s mom was).
2 stars out of 5.