Bad Moms ***

Hardworking moms deserve a good laugh, and this delivers.

Is it worth $10? Yes

“Bad Moms” is catharsis for all the tired, overworked and overstressed moms out there, and darn funny at that. This is the kind of movie that only comes once or twice a year and is a perfect excuse for ladies to get together, perhaps enjoy a glass of wine (or two) beforehand, and laugh hysterically at what’s on screen, because unlike most comedies, this time it’s for them.

Amy (Mila Kunis) is tired of being supermom. Her husband Mike (David Walton) is a deadbeat, and her kids Dylan (Emjay Anthony) and Jane (Oona Laurence) are teenagers and therefore impossible to please. Her boss (Clark Duke) doesn’t appreciate her, she doesn’t have time to eat, her dog is sick and she can’t fathom all the ingredients she’s not allowed to use for the PTA bake sale. She’s a mess, but more importantly she has every right to be a mess.

So she quits the PTA. Quits her job. When she finds out her husband is having an Internet affair, she kicks him out. She takes control of her life, and good for her. Friends Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) join her in rebelling against this system that demands perfect parents and students, and it’s liberating. Their enemies are the uptight PTA moms (Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo) who don’t tolerate non-conformity.

Writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore also wrote “The Hangover” movies, so they know exactly what they’re doing in terms of delivering laughs. The humor here isn’t gross, but it is vulgar, comfortably eschewing notions of the “feminine mystique” for candid conversations about male anatomy, hating kids’ baseball games and mom bras. Hahn gets the biggest laughs because her character is the most outrageous, but Kunis is a solid lead and all the supporting characters get moments to shine. Most of the humor is verbal, but “Bad Moms” does have rowdy moments, including a frat-style party for PTA moms with cheap wine and a trip to the grocery store that gets very, very messy. Add in a fun pop soundtrack and you’re grinning from ear to ear.

Best of all, it feels honest. At one point Amy shares her favorite “mom” fantasy, which is simply having a quiet breakfast by herself – no kids to worry about, or husband to tell what he needs to do to. What’s more Amy, Kiki and Carla do not shy away from what must be true of raising children: That they’ll drive you crazy and you usually can’t win no matter what you do, and sometimes you even think they’re losers or misfits or straight-up weirdoes, but darn it, you love them more than anything else in the world.

“Bad Moms” plays out in predictable ways, and that couldn’t be more fitting: It means the film is flawed and imperfect, just like the moms it depicts and just like we all are. And you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes you need a good laugh to be reminded of that.

Did you know?
As the end credits begin each of the principal actresses sits with her mother and shares stories. It’s a nice, appropriate note to end the film on.

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