Everyone returns for this sequel to the very funny and enjoyable Bad Moms, with the cast also being swelled out by some great new additions, and maybe that's something that ends up working against the end product. It's not really a bad film. I laughed a fair few times, I enjoyed spending times with the characters, but it's one of those sequels that plays things all too safe by basically reworking the first movie, with a few minor twists and tweaks. That can be fun. I am sure that I have thoroughly enjoyed some sequels that have been designed that way. But I was left disappointed by this one.
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn are, once again, parents struggling to live up to the ideal image set by society. But this time society is right in their homes, in the shape of THEIR mothers (played by, respectively, Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon). And it's all about Christmas. Baranski is too pushy, happy to throw gifts at her grandchildren as she plans an extravagant Christmas for everyone around her family to be suitably impressed by, Hines is just unable to give her daughter any space, and Sarandon is so lacking in maternal instinct that Hahn starts to reconsider her own approach to parenting.
You can tell how things are going to pan out from the very opening scenes, although that's made all the more obvious by it starting with a depressed Kunis telling viewers that she has ruined Christmas before then jumping back in time to show how she got to that point. But there are no surprises here, and that's not just due to the structuring.
Writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore obviously feel that fans of the first movie were most entertained by the scenes showing some bad behaviour, which is why they rework them here. One main sequence, which basically has the women saying "fuck the capitalism and unattainable standards of the Christmas that we have all been sold", is amusing, but far less amusing than it could have been. Why? Because it's really just the same montage that we saw in the first movie, except this time around we have Christmas decorations involved. Despite having developed into different people by the end of the first movie, even slightly, the leads are now back to exactly as they were, although ready to band together for occasional moments of civil disobedience. The entrance of the grandparents allows Lucas and Moore to pretend that this isn't a pretty weak retread, but that is exactly what it is.
All of the leads do well though. Hahn is a scene-stealer once again, and both Kunis and Bell do well in their roles. Baranski is the best of the newcomers, but Sarandon and Hines certainly have their moments, and the latter made me laugh as she desperately called out diseases that she was pretending to be afflicted by in order to deflect her daughter resenting her.
And that's the saving grace of A Bad Mom's Christmas. It's much like Daddy's Home 2, which I know I am in the minority for enjoying. Whatever you think of the lack of originality, of the predictable plotting, of the sheer needlessness of it all, it provides some laughs. It provides some good laughs, although a few more wouldn't have gone amiss. But that's what a comedy should do, make you laugh, and this succeeds in that department.
Treat yourself to double the bad moms here.