Bad Moms is the Kind of Mother’s Day Movie Women Deserve

It’s time for movie moms to get their own ‘Hangover.’
By  · Published on May 5th, 2016

This is an appropriate week for STX Entertainment to drop the trailer for Bad Moms. Obviously, it can play before any number of movies that women and their families will be seeing on Sunday for Mother’s Day. But it would be even more appropriate for the comedy to actually open this weekend.

Sure, theaters are going to be pretty crowded. Captain America: Civil War is going to dominate the box office, with some moms even choosing the superhero sequel as their holiday viewing selection. And for the rest there’s the godawful alternative programming of Mother’s Day plus the slightly better ensemble picture themed to motherhood, Mothers and Daughters. And leftovers like Batman v Superman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, The Jungle Book, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Miracles from Heaven, and The Boss all have some sort of maternal theme to appeal to moviegoers.

But Bad Moms looks like perfect alternative programming to the movies genuinely timed to the holiday. It stars Mila Kunis as a mother struggling with the responsibilities of parenthood, particularly the parts involving the public facade of it being easy and wonderful and rewarding every hour of every day and the social obligations of keeping up with those “perfect” moms that maintain the facade so well. She breaks down one day at a PTA meeting, directly challenges a Queen Bee mom (Christina Applegate), and buddies up with two other fed-up ladies (Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn).

It’s those supposedly perfect moms who would go see dumb fluff like Mother’s Day. They’re the sort that see the holiday for its most basic purpose: the celebration and pampering of mothers by their children, who are in turn to be honored through the mothers’ unconditional love of being a mother, specifically to those brats. Mother’s Day can be somewhat backward in its observance, not unlike how our own birthdays are more suitably celebrated by our mothers than ourselves. For many moms, Mother’s Day should be a time to get away, to take time off from their responsibilities.

Or at least take a couple hours and indulge in a motherhood fantasy, where they’re validated on things like being totally annoyed by their children on a regular basis, even while simultaneously loving them more than anything in the world. Where they can identify with other mothers who think it’s bullshit that you aren’t supposed to say no to you kids, let alone punish them, and are sick both of and with the worry that no parent ever knows if they’re doing a good job or are fucking these little undeveloped people up for their entire lives. And also to vent about their husbands’ flaccid dicks.

It’s very possible that Bad Moms is going to be bad – as in its quality, not its off-the-hook debauchery. The whole bit with the bra is a near identical copy to a dumb scene in The Boss (which is otherwise pretty funny), only now Bell gets to do the prodding instead of be the butt of the boob jokes. And it’s written and directed by the duo behind 21 & Over and the script for The Hangover. They’re men, by the way (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore), which is probably a mistake, and it’s also the reason I think it stupidly fitting that I’m the one writing here about what women, moms in particular, deserve.

But as a husband and father, I at least know some of what they need on Mother’s Day. Even if it’s a split, where half the day they get the breakfast in bed and presents and best behavior from their kids and spouse, and half the day they get to go to a wine bar with a bunch of fellow moms in need of a good break. They deserve to have some distance from the very things that made them mothers. Even if they claim they’d rather spend the whole day with the children. That’s just what they’re supposed to say. But they’re entitled to be bad moms, at least for one day. They’re heroes the other 364.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.