A Bad Moms Christmas

So I missed the press screenings, but heaven forbid I miss a chance to talk about a new Christmas movie, so here are my thoughts after catching the first Wednesday matinee:

The first “Bad Moms” shouldn’t necessarily have worked, but somehow it did — after a slow start, the ribaldry of Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and especially Kathryn Hahn throwing propriety to the wind and having a wild time made for effective comedy. And now they’re doing it all over again at Christmastime, and dealing with their own crazy mothers.

Bell’s mom Cheryl Hines has no concept of boundaries, and Hahn’s mother Susan Sarandon is a drifter and grifter who only comes to town to put the touch on her daughter for some cash. Worst (and best) of all is Christine Baranski, a tyrant and taskmaster who insists that Kunis put on the perfect Christmas for the benefit of her kids, who are spending their first holiday after their parents’ divorce. (Kunis’ children are played by two very talented young actors: Oona Laurence, who was one of the best features of “Southpaw,” and Emjay Anthony, who knows all about upended family Christmases after being in “Krampus.”)

Is “A Bad Moms Christmas” a holiday classic? Well, that’s the weird thing about holiday classics: only time can tell. (You wouldn’t believe the blistering early reviews of some of the movies you watch every December.) But the laughs come frequently, and the emotional scenes aren’t embarrassing, so overall, I enjoyed myself. This is a seasoned cast that sells the one-liners (when Hahn notes that she loves her son, Sarandon responds that she can’t keep up with all the latest trends in parenting), and while there’s probably at least one slo-mo montage too many, the promise of a sequel involving the trio of grandmas seems like a movie worth anticipating.

Yes, I’m a soft touch for holiday movies — and dysfunctional-family-comedy is my favorite Christmas sub-genre — but you might find yourself amused by the mix of over-the-top holiday art-direction and Baranski’s fearlessly hilarious performance. (The site of “This Is Us” beefcake Justin Hartley bumping and grinding as a stripping “Sexy Santa” doesn’t hurt either.) If you liked the boozy Bad Moms the first time around, this egg nog-gy version might appeal to you as well.


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