Tag Archives: Christina Applegate

Mom Genes

Bad Moms

by Hope Madden

A raunchy comedy that peels away all the precious nonsense associated with motherhood and isn’t afraid to get a bit nasty – this feels like a film that’s been a long time coming. It could be a welcome change of pace if done well. Unfortunately, instead we got Bad Moms.

Mila Kunis stars as an overworked, underappreciated, harshly-judged parent. Her husband’s useless, her boss is a joke, and she’s so irredeemably responsible that her life is spiraling out of control. Either that or she is such an overtly clichéd image of every potential mom complaint that no actor could possibly make her a human.

Kunis has strong comic sensibilities, as do the performers playing her two new besties, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn. Hahn’s the unrepentant man- and booze-hound of a single parent, while Bell’s Kiki is the socially awkward stay-at-home mother of 4. Together they have great fun doing all the things no one wants to see their mom do – and thank God for it, because the rest of the film is worthless.

This is a world where not one father contributes. OK, maybe one – but he’s a hot widower, so there’s no mother to help out. Awwww….

The film is co-written and co-directed by Hangover franchise creators Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, but they could have seriously used an assist from Bad Moms co-star Annie Mumolo. Mumolo co-wrote 2011’s Bridesmaids, a film that was capable of producing female-centric comedy with dimension. Even men.

I’m confident that there are times when every parent feels incompetent, where every well-planned family vacation turns into fodder for your child’s first adult conversation with a therapist. Bad Moms brings up loads of great, universal points that will pick those scabs. Unfortunately, the resolution to those issues is always convenient and one-sided to the point of being offensive.

Bad Moms is trying to offend your sensibilities, but it succeeds in the wrong spots. The lengthy sight gag concerning sex with an uncircumcised penis – not offensive, just funny. The problem is the rest of the movie.

At no point in the film Bad Moms is the word “parent” used. Every problem, every responsibility, every joy and obstacle is the sole property of the mom. I’m sure it can feel that way at times, but good comedy rarely comes from such a one-dimensional premise. It certainly doesn’t do so here.


Holiday Road Revisited


by Hope Madden

Reboots are too often tiresome and they frequently taint beloved childhood memories, but you have to admit that the trailers for Vacation are hilarious. Each different clip offers funny bits and clever dialog, but to be honest, they had me as soon as the kid in the back seat put a plastic bag over his brother’s head.

The writing/directing team of Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley bring the John Hughes/Harold Ramis road trip classic into this millennium. The now middle aged Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) decides to relive his childhood vacation by driving his own wife and children across the nation: destination, Walley World.

The cast is very strong. Helms, playing the mild mannered but lovable nerd he does so well, anchors the film and also immediately alters the tone set in the ’83 original. His wholesome dork of a dad delivers plenty of punch lines, but he does as much work as a set-up man, which affords the rest of the ensemble opportunities to shine.

Christina Applegate capably navigates the conflicted mate space, but it’s Skyler Gisondo and Steele Stebbins who kill as the next generation of Griswolds. Stebbins’s psychotic bully of a younger brother is the single funniest thing about this movie, and Gisondo not only establishes a unique character all his own, he’s also an outstanding comic foil for Stebbins.

Charlie Day’s a riot in one of a dozen or more very funny bit parts, while Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth are a hoot as Rusty’s sister Audrey and her husband Stone. Aside from them, though, the nods toward the original only manage to slow the movie’s pace.

The writing feels scattered and leads toward too many dead ends, and though the humor often hits the mark, it’s far safer than what they were getting away with back in ’83. Like any road trip film, Vacation uses a highway to string together a series of sight gags. Some work, some fall flat, but thanks mostly to the very solid cast, there are plenty of laughs. That shouldn’t be a surprise, though.

Moose outside shoulda told you.