Cinematic Releases: Eggnog Hangover: A Bad Mom's Christmas (2017) Reviewed

2016's Bad Moms was an entertaining surprise that shouldn't have been a surprise at all.  How could anyone question three funny, underrated women with great chemistry and excellent comic timing carrying a relatable low stakes comedy with a smart balance of heart and R-rated raunch?  It's no wonder the film was a huge success; it's even less surprising that a sequel (and a yet-to-be-seen spinoff, Bad Dads) was announced just as it was wrapping up its impressive run.  

Barely 15 months later, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn come home for the holidays with A Bad Moms Christmas, a sweet but all-too-familiar holiday confection that should have spent a little more time in the oven.

The story revolves around the Bad Moms getting holiday visits from their own mothers.  Amy (Kunis) finds herself at odds with her haughty perfectionist mother (Christine Baranski), Kiki (Bell) is smothered by her boundary-free "best friend" mom (Cheryl Hines), and Carla (Hahn) questions her relationship with her free-spirited, distant mother (Susan Sarandon).  The three veteran actresses are terrific, perfectly cast, playing exactly the types of mothers one would expect these women to have.  The level of talent in the film, down to the smallest parts, is impressive on paper.  The issue is that the material is not up to the level of any of them.

The chemistry of the three leads certainly carried the first Bad Moms, but they had much better material to work with.  Writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore cracked a code that comedy filmmakers had been striving for since the original Hangover, utilizing the talent on hand and delivering a fun experience.  A Bad Moms Christmas makes the original look like lightning in a bottle.  The raunchy rebellious spirit of the first film is basically reduced to slow motion montages of the three leads getting drunk and wreaking havoc set to a predictably uncharacteristic rap song.  Remove these, the generous F-bombs and This is Us's Justin Hartley's entire character, and what's left is a cookie cutter Hallmark film about insecure women raised by insecure women, with a sprinkling of wacky family jokes lifted verbatim from funnier movies.  Rehashing what always works is a tried-and-true technique in holiday movies, repeating jokes from Christmas Vacation with more F-bombs does not a holiday comedy classic make.

Things are about to get nasty!

2015's The Night Before did just about everything A Bad Moms Christmas attempted to do, with much greater success.  It delivered laugh-out-loud lewd comedy and a lot of heart, while feeling like something you haven't seen a thousand times every Christmas.  No such luck with A Bad Moms Christmas.  The six lead actresses work well with what they're given, and there are moments of genuine heart and hilarity spread around.  Unfortunately, "moments" aren't enough to keep a 100-minute comedy feeling original and fun.  There's plenty to be said for striking while the iron is hot, but maybe A Bad Moms Christmas is one case of a film that could have benefited from a little more development time.  A Bad Moms Christmas is generally entertaining but overall a bit flat and repetitive.  There are worse ways to spend an hour and 40 minutes, but it's not likely to be a holiday classic.


-Mike Stec