Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Movie Review: BAD MOMS (Review #2)

Pushed to the limit of possible stress by her husband's laziness, her terrible boss, her unpaid over time hours, two kids, constant unbearable scrutiny from Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), head of the PTA and an overall tireless schedule, Amy (Mila Kunis) one night decides, with her new found friends Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn), to rebel against the system and to finally let themselves go, embarking on a journey of transgression.

Having never been a fan of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore in the comedy scene I have to admit that this is definitely their best and most mature effort in feature comedy yet, even if is still bears signs of their usual over-stuffed and slightly uncomfortable humor.

In contrast with these writers and directors' previous film I found myself genuinely laughing along with the movie many times and ultimately the success of a comedy comes down to that so no matter how off the rails they go at times, this film is definitely the most tight and coherent film these filmmakers have put together yet.

The characters, whilst slightly stereotypical and sporadically going off balance, for the major part maintain an empathetic through line which ultimately, no matter how many clich├ęs the film bumps into, results in a satisfying experience with a very strong thematic undercurrent about what it means to be a mom and how mad and out of control the situation can be. More importantly the film is also about how people unjustly and stupidly judge each other and whilst both these themes might be shoved down your throat towards the end, through the film they are carried out in an organic way, giving the characters something to do and getting out comedy from the hilarious situations that emerge. Highlights of the cast for me have to be Kristen Bell for her usual brilliant timing and charisma and Oona Laurence who continues to nail every performance through and through. This kid is a natural.

Another element for which the directors have never distinguished themselves is style and personal touch. Whilst this film carries on that, being shot in the most generic way possible, having absolutely zero shots that stick out as anything but standard coverage, they do get away hilariously with a couple of sequence which benefit from having some really wild and out-there humor and not taking that to the same level of crassness that some of their previous efforts had, resulting in uncomfortable stuff, being there just for the sake of provocation.

Here instead, they just nail that balance of shocking you, yet keeping it in tone and genuine, which produced the opposite result: a couple of hilarious sequences of anarchic comedy that had me bursting out with joy and laughter. They really managed to nail those moments of pure joy which I really find beautiful in a comedy. Where unfortunately they fail is in keeping the pathos going throughout all the scenes and have many scenes which feel more like connective character tissue or exposition rather than part of the film. Not to mention that I was kind of turned off by the movie at times for the usual, unpleasant moral ambiguity that Moore and Lucas have had many times in the past: having all the characters just fly off in a billionaire's jet at the end really bothered me, especially for how unnecessary it felt.

Fortunately those moments happen rarely and quickly, for the majority we are served a pretty decent comedy with a couple of great moments, some admittedly dull, but overall a very good and likable cast and a fine amount of laughs.

James's Score: 6/10

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