I managed to have a mom’s night out last weekend.
And I did what any self respecting mom does when she has time away from the house. I met my amazing sister-in-law for an scrumptious tex-mex dinner, where we laughed obnoxiously loud, stared at some cute babies at the table across the way from ours and went to a movie together.
No, we weren’t seeing the latest romantic comedy clearly marketed for the minivan majority starring Julia Roberts in a bad wig (at least, I hope that was a wig…).
We saw Bad Moms. Moms everywhere, meet the raunchy comedy you have been waiting for.
After all, our children cough right into our mouths, or put soggy Rice Krispys into our hair when we aren’t looking. We scrape poop off of the backsides of tiny, and oftentimes slightly deranged people.
We moms are some of the grossest people around. Isn’t it time our cinematic options reflected that truth?
So, yea, a few times, Bad Moms made me outright blush because of its sexual content. This movie definitely might not be for everyone.
Bad Moms centers around three moms, the unbridled Carla, the meek Kiki and the grounded Amy, but mostly the story focuses on Amy.
Amy is clearly a giver, both in her marriage and in her parenting. She is overworked, and under appreciated. After a particularly bad day, during which she finds out her husband is having an online affair, and after being bullied at the school PTA meeting by the resident Queen Mean Mom, Amy up and quits the PTA. She also quits being a constant doormat for her husband and children. She then befriends Carla and Kiki, and the moms all let their hair down for the first time since…ever.
Some Spoilery bits ahead:
The “bad” (no pun intended):
The three males in this movie are basically cardboard character cutouts, and two of them are of the worst stereotypical dads/husbands you could think of.
There is the perpetual man-child who refuses to grow up, and then there is the authoritative father and husband figure who lords over his family. The minimal humanization makes them both easy to loathe, which was probably intentional.
The other guy is the school’s resident hot dad, and he hardly does any talking, but that’s okay. His body is harder than Mount Rushmore. He isn’t really supposed to talk.
Also, not once did I forget that Mila Kunis LOOKS LIKE MILA KUNIS. Yea, okay, you can throw a denim jacket on her and fling some spaghetti noodles in her hair, and try to imply that she is somehow dowdy. I still never forgot that she looks like Mila Kunis. Am I, the mom who currently has dried ramen noodles stuck to her elbow, supposed to relate physically to Mila Kunis? Even in the unsexy bra bit?
But whatever, Kunis’ Amy is still wonderfully relatable and grounded.
Lastly, a lot of things in this film are highly exaggerated.
For instance, Amy’s house looks pretty much like an upscale interior design catalog, and she drives the most tricked out minivan on the road. There was not one smudged chocolate pudding hand print on the walls of her home. When various moms open their purses, thirteen crayons and a pretzel rod didn’t fall out. This is definitely Hollywood’s take on parenting, and Hollywood is a town where the Kardashians are mindbogglingly famous for absolutely nothing. So take it with a grain of salt.
The (at times, oh so very) good:
From a non-parent’s perspective, I can see why someone might think that nothing very significant actually happens in this movie.
We see a few days in the life of Amy. Rushing from office meetings to school appointments to soccer practice and back to work. We see Amy making lunches and dropping her kids off at school. We see Amy doing all of the heavy lifting in her household and at the office as the sole over thirty employee in a sea of self-obsessed millennials.
We even see her crying alone in the parking lot when she feels like she’s failed everyone. And boy, does that ring true.
Nothing that seems supremely monumental or universal ever really happens, even after she catches her husband having an affair, and she decides to pretty much stop being the overachiever that she is.
Amy quits the PTA. She stops going the extra mile at work to pick up the slack for her lazy coworkers. She goes out for brunch and to a movie by herself. She gets drunk a few times and refuses to make her kids breakfast. Still, not a super big deal, right?
While these occurrences may not seem epic, these instances are where I feel like the movie really shines, even despite its flaws.
Bad Moms was written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore in honor of their wives, and this fact has drawn criticism from the mommy peanut gallery who couldn’t believe that two men (men responsible for giving us The Hangover trilogy no less) would dare to write about the trials motherhood.
And I can understand that. There are a lot of women out there who I think could write a very funny, and very poignant movie about motherhood that rings a little truer.
Still, I decided to be open minded when I watched this movie because sometimes, you have to remember that movies are about escapism, and not always about being politically correct. Amy, Kiki and Carla all have valid journeys that women around the world make every day. And I was happy to watch.
Despite what doesn’t always work, which is comparatively minor and no worse than the usual comedy fare we see on screen, what the film gets right it really nails.
I read a review by a film critic, who is a mom herself, and who insists that while motherhood is tremendously hard, it is also the most basic job on the planet.
You do not need to be a rocket scientist to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You do not need a college degree to take someone’s temperature, change diapers or drop small people off at school.
She was asking the question of what in this film actually makes these mothers bad mothers?
Once I stopped being slightly offended by her review, I thought about it. And on the surface, we mothers can sit in the audience and say that nothing the characters did was really ever bad.
Only, we moms also know that we don’t always view ourselves in that single, objective way.
We are infinitely harder on ourselves.
How often do we feel guilty when we are late to something pertaining to our children?
How often do we feel guilty when we have to prioritize work over our children?
How often do we feel guilty when we just have to say no to volunteering for the bake sale or extracurricular activities?
How often do we feel guilty when we know we aren’t showing up for our kids the way that we want to?
How often do we feel guilty when our marriages are struggling, our finances are struggling, our work life is struggling, and it bleeds over into the way we parent our children?
How guilty do we feel when we go out for a well deserved night night on the town, some tex-mex and a movie, when our kids are crying as we leave?
We have all been Amy and Carla and Kiki and Vicky and Gwendolyn and so on. We have all wanted to rip our children’s heads off while also wanting to smother them because they are so perfect, so cute and so wonderful.
We have sat in the car in a parking lot, huddled in the shower and hidden behind the bathroom door because we just couldn’t anymore. And we know that there are parts of parenting that should be really easy, like the pb&j sandwiches, the dishes and the wiping of noses, but that doesn’t really matter because we are at the end of our rope.
We know that it isn’t exactly what the task entails. It’s knowing that we don’t always know what we are doing. It’s knowing that our kids need more of us than we have to give.
So, no, a mother going out for brunch entirely by herself doesn’t sound particularly scandalous. Neither does a mom who takes leftover nachos and coffee to bed with her while her children make their own damn breakfasts. Or a mom hands the reigns over to her husband for a night while she blows off some steam with a friend.
It might not seem like much at first, but a mom who values herself and who values the worthy effort she puts in for her family is an immeasurable thing. And it takes some of us a little while to get there.
These are such seemingly small things, but they are the things that help us moms feel whole again. That help us feel like a person again. That help us feel alive again.
So when Amy let her son finish his own school project, or slips into a black spaghetti strap dress, no, it might not have seemed as epic as the end of Saving Private Ryan or as mind blowing as The Matrix.
But the moments when each of these moms realized that they could be good moms, while also being a complete person and even despite their flaws and shortcomings was a revelation for me.
So go see Bad Moms. Ignore the reviews and decide for yourself. Go for the raunch, stay for the heartstrings and leave with a smile on your face.