Last week, Kelly Faircloth and I sat in separate movie theaters hundreds of miles apart—Kelly in New York and me in Miami—for the sole purpose of watching Bad Moms Christmas. Kelly and I, the only two moms at Jezebel, decided that reviewing Bad Moms Christmas would make good content. In full disclosure: we came to this conclusion while drunk at Jezebel’s recent anniversary party. Our equally drunk editor agreed that this was a good idea and gave us permission to buy tickets to a Friday matinee and report back on the movie. The decision-making process that led Kelly and me into theaters for an afternoon viewing of Bad Moms Christmas seems crucial here.
I’m sorry to report that we were wrong. In the light of a sober Friday afternoon, Bad Moms Christmas was not a good idea. Instead of a dumb Christmas movies filled with bad jokes, Bad Moms Christmas was comedically flat, its jokes painful, and its talented cast of women (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski, and Cheryl Hines) deeply underutilized. The movie is practically a case study in the phrase, “Hollywood needs better roles for women.” There were running jokes about moms being racist, jokes about moms cursing, jokes about children cursing, jokes about the shocking realization that women over 30 have sex, jokes about moms being crazy, and a running gag about Kenny G.
With the distance of a weekend to reflect on Bad Moms Christmas, Kelly and I sat down to wade through our feelings about the movie, Christmas, and Christmas movies we’d actually like to see.
Stassa Edwards: Kelly, we saw Bad Moms Christmas. There were approximately two other women in the theater I went to.
Kelly Faircloth: I think there were more like ten in my showing, which was impressive for 2:45 on a Friday.
SE: Not a single person, myself included, laughed out loud through the entire, I don’t know, six hours? It seemed like Bad Moms Christmas was six hours long.
KF: You know what got big laughs in my screening? The trailer for the John Cena movie about trying to stop their daughters from having sex at prom. The trailers were generally a wild grab bag.
SE: I sat through a trailer for the new Gerard Butler movie (not the one currently in theaters but another one).
KF: Which seemed AWFUL.
SE: Seems to me that some studio executive thinks that moms think Gerard Butler is hot. He is not. But it’s fun that we’re supposed to believe that this guy, who was hot once in one movie, is allowed to coast. The ghosts of Gerard Butler past.
KF: No woman has ever been allowed to coast as long as Gerard Butler. A perfect metaphor.
SE: It really was the perfect warmup for Bad Moms Christmas, a movie filled with a lot of talented actresses who tried really hard to make this movie into something, but could not.
KF: Yes, these women really left it all out on the field. But unfortunately, you cannot spin shit into gold.
SE: Especially Kathryn Hahn, who was very committed but frankly too good for this movie.
To summarize: Bad Moms Christmas is about two rich moms and one “poor” mom (who lives in a solidly middle-class house), who decide that instead of spending all of their free time planning Christmas, they’re just going to have fun. To be clear, fun means that they’re going to decorate, give their family gifts and provide a meal, they’re just not going to be Martha Stewart. And that makes them “bad moms.” The stakes are very low.
But the twist is that their own moms come to town! And the Christmas message is that you should tolerate your mother’s insanity because motherhood makes you crazy. Just love your crazy mom! This could have easily been called Moms Are Fucking Insane.
KF: Yes, the movie opens with Mila Kunis mourning that she has “ruined Christmas.” Come to find out, she “ruined Christmas” by telling off her mother (played by Christine Baranski) and kicking her out.
However: Her mother has spent the entire movie treating her and everyone else like crap, including being outright racist to Kunis’s boyfriend [Jay Hernandez as Jessie].
SE: Christine Baranski who is also too talented for this movie and still has impeccable comedic delivery in spite of the terrible dialogue.
KF: I wish the running Kenny G joke had been in literally any other movie with literally any other message.
SE: Christine Baranski’s character, Ruth, is a certifiable psychopath in this movie, as is Cheryl Hines who plays Kristen Bell’s mother.
KF: Look, I think it’s great to have a certain tolerance for the foibles of others and especially the people you love. You put up with them, they put up with you—that’s intimacy. But I’m sorry, their behavior is not because they are “moms,” and they do not have to be tolerated! Don’t listen to Bad Moms Christmas! Tell your toxic mom to take a hike!
I was really surprised by how angry this movie made me!
SE: I was pretty angry, too. I was also confused about a couple of things:
One: except for Kathryn Hahn’s character (who waxes “pussies,” a joke she’s forced to make too often), none of these moms have jobs.
KF: Yeah, HOW is Kunis paying for that absolutely stunning home?
SE: Two: Mila Kunis says “I’m 34 years old“ at some point, but her son appears to be 16 or so?
KF: Okay THANK YOU, I was worried I no longer had any idea how old anyone was.
SE: Three: The women go to a gingerbread house DIY event at their kids’ school but their children are not in the same age range and couldn’t possibly be at the same school.
KF: This movie at times demanded more suspension of disbelief than Blade Runner.
SE: Four: These women spend a lot of time at the mall and apparently have never heard of the internet.
KF: Well, Stassa, how are they supposed to work in the Old Navy promo if they don’t go to the mall?
SE: Also, all of the native advertising in the movie was some corporate shill’s idea of where moms shop. I haven’t been into a Bed, Bath and Beyond in over a decade.
KF: I’m still not over why Christmas is so hard for these women. Granted, I am the wrong audience for this, because a lot of my stress could be solved by the addition of a dishwasher to my apartment. But they appear to have a decent amount of money and a fair bit of free time. Is it really this stressful? Who is making them be Martha Stewart? I’m just not sure that’s some intrinsic struggle of motherhood—especially the two wealthier moms.
SE: Bad Moms Christmas isn’t about motherhood or bad moms or even Christmas, so much as the idea of motherhood as a lifestyle concocted in the recesses of the minds of the two men [Jon Lucas and Scott Moore] who wrote the movie.
KF: I wonder if they just read a lot of Urban Baby convos and that was the basis of the film.
SE: Right, their stress seems to be born of not consuming in the most refined way possible And you’re right, this movie feels like the worst thread you’ve ever read on any baby site, transformed into film. A six-hour film [note: the actual running time is 104 minutes].
KF: You would think they were Bob Cratchit!
SE: Who, incidentally, Mila Kunis is forced to dress as during a Christmas caroling bit.
So, we have this non-problem turned into a massive problem that, the movie posits, all moms feel (at least all wealthy, white moms). And they find freedom in getting drunk at the mall and doing stuff during montages.
KF: This movie was, conservatively, 80 percent montage.
You know what annoys me is there is the seed of a movie here that I would have probably enjoyed. Like, I did kind of relate to Mila Kunis constantly walking into some situation and demanding to know, “What the fuck?” Because there is a lot of mom shit that makes you demand to know, “What the fuck?”
Unfortunately, instead of being a funny Bridesmaids-style comedy about those things, it was one of the things. The only place I’ve been getting the message that I’m obliged to do PERFECT CHRISTMAS is this movie!
SE: Right, and the movie was forcing this comedic shock value of a mom uttering the word “fuck.” Indicating that the writers of this movie have never been around any women with children.
KF: Fun fact about me: I learned the word fuck from my own mom. (Sorry for the dox, Mama.)
SE: I feel like many of our conversations about motherhood can be boiled down to “What the fuck?”
SE: It was disappointing to see like all of these really talented actresses turned into stereotypes. Especially Baranski, Hines, and Susan Sarandon, playing the grandmothers. They couldn’t just have the normal problems of mothers and daughters, like the tension that taking a comment from your mother a certain way, even if it’s not intended that way, that’s more typical of the holidays.
Instead, all of these older women were transformed into these monsters.
KF: Which the movie then told us to forgive, because that’s a mom for you!
SE: That, according to Wanda Sykes’s short monologue like halfway through the movie, is the fault of every child in the world. Apparently, every woman who ever reproduced is bound to her future as a crazy person who is a ball of insecurity.
KF: Truly, what the fuck?
SE: I kept wondering who this movie was made for. Clearly, from the small sample in the suburban theater I was at, it was made for women. But it was such a misuse of these talented actresses (I even felt bad for Susan Sarandon!); just a series of cliched stereotypes that were not fun.
KF: Honestly, I would have rather stayed home and watched a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie and made Christmas crafts. Which probably would make me villainous side character in Bad Moms Christmas but that’s fine.
SE: Was there anything you enjoyed about Bad Moms Christmas?
KF: Other than the Kenny G jokes? Well, Christine Baranski’s wardrobe and presence, even if she was used all wrong. That, and I did kind of enjoy Sensitive Hot Santa.
SE: Sensitive Hot Santa was a weird turn.
KF: EXTREMELY weird. But I enjoyed his sex object calendar presence.
SE: Again, props to Hahn who was really committed and is a great comedic actress for trying to turn the bland “mom’s gonna have sex with a hot stripper Santa” joke into something. Even that joke felt like something that writers approached as a box to check.
KF: You know what I just realized I want? Girls Trip Christmas.
SE: That would have been a thousand times better. Or a movie about bad moms written by actual women that don’t see “getting drunk” as particularly raucous behavior?
KF: Dare to dream!
SE: For now, let’s just put the hope of Girls Trip Christmas into the world.
KF: From our lips to God’s ears.