So when I’m not checking out the newest cinematic offerings, I do marketing management for a restaurant here in Los Angeles. The restaurant happens to be in the same plaza as the Arclight Beach Cities Cinema and that makes our restaurant popular stop for people looking for a good bite to eat (and a lot to drink) before and after a movie. I’ve worked at this restaurant for five years and we have seen our fair share of crowds for big releases as well as the latest Oscar bait but no movie has had us more slammed than Bad Moms last summer.
For a solid three weeks, beginning with that film’s opening weekend, we were getting larges parties of 20-30 women at a time who made the film their choice for a girls night out and the debauchery displayed during the film seemed to rub off on all the women who saw it because when they were at our establishment they made it a party. Many people say not to underestimate the female demographic and the success of a film like Bad Moms shows that women can make an event out of going to the movies and it proves that it’s an audience that is generally underserved.
This year we were more prepared for the release of A Bad Moms Christmas but we were all still caught off guard but the droves of women flooding the restaurant in celebration of this film. Keep in mind Thor: Ragnarok opened the same weekend and brought in huge numbers but the restaurant didn’t reflect that audience. If you were to base it on the total volume of people, you would’ve thought A Bad Moms Christmas had the record-breaking weekend.
I give you this little tidbit of information because it shows that certain movies are made for certain audiences and much like its predecessor, A Bad Moms Christmas knows its audience. There is a reason the opening weekend box office skewed over 80% female and while some might not find anything to laugh at here, I kept thinking while watching that at least it knows exactly what it is and isn’t ashamed of it. Some of the situations may be of the sitcom variety but the cast chemistry is strong and their commitment ultimately makes this a sequel worth checking out. Especially if you’re into this sort of thing.
The movie picks up shortly after the end of the first installment. The titular “bad moms” Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) remain friends and each continues living in much the same vein as when we last saw them. Amy is now dating Jessie (Jay Hernandez). Kiki and her husband are doing better with co-parenting. And Carla is paying more attention to her son. But winter is coming and along with it are ghosts of Christmases past and present. All three moms get visits from their own mothers. Kiki’s (Cheryl Hines) is clingy with no sense of boundaries. Carla’s (Susan Sarandon) rarely visits and when she does she’s looking for money to feed a gambling habit. And Amy’s (Christine Baranski), who comes with a mostly mute husband (Peter Gallagher) in tow, is a Type A personality who belittles everyone except her grandchildren.
While the core cast chemistry remains solid, the female leads from the first film take a bit of a backseat to their respective mothers and that isn’t necessarily a mad thing. It’s almost as if they’re paying respect to those who came before them and they rightfully let them shine. Most of the laughs of the film come from the individual performances and due to some major scene-stealing, Christine Baranski gets most of the laughs. Not be outdone is Susan Sarandon who comes in a close second to Baranski in her ability to steal a scene and a few laughs. Cheryl Hines also leaves an impression but her role isn’t as showy as the others. Of the three original ladies, Kathryn Hahn definitely gets the most laughs and steals her fair share of scenes much like she did in the first film. Kunis and Bell are perfectly fine but they surprisingly fade into the background without much of real significance to do.
The one thing that works against it is what challenges most comedies that have a lot of bite is that they slip into tepid drama and try to wrap things up with a neat little message. The film is about the moms taking back Christmas and making their own traditions while forging new relationships with their mothers. Everything is wrapped up in a nice little bow by the time the credits roll and for a comedy that seems to embrace its R-rating, it’s a little disappointing to see it go soft a bit but I guess that’s expected from this kind of production.
That being said, maybe that’s what the audience wants. This wasn’t made for me and clearly, it’s speaking to its audience because it’s getting groups of women to go to the movies together and enjoy a good time with friends. On that level, the film works and maybe that’s all that really matters.