Despite its constant and bizarre sexual innuendos, hardcore drinking, and drastically inappropriate language, “Bad Moms” is in every other way a pretty good movie. In the film, Mila Kunis plays a long suffering “perfect mom,” who does everything she can to help her children succeed, but groans under this tremendous of being perfect. When she catches her husband cheating on her with an Internet girlfriend, Kunis is pushed too far and from there begins rebelling against the expectations of other haughty, judgy “perfect moms” in her Illinois suburbs. From there, it is nothing but socially awkward high-jinks and montages with age-appropriate rap music, as Mila Kunis lives for herself rather than striving to meet the grinding, infantile demands of her bratty children.
Sure, during those scenes Kunis pushes the envelope too far. She goes out drinking with other moms that just can’t measure up, either, trashes a grocery store (who hasn’t wanted to do that, though?), and goes bar-hopping in hopes of finding a one-night stand. Worse yet, she makes enemies with the president of the PTA, played by Christina Applegate, who proceeds to punish Mila Kunis by getting her daughter kicked off the soccer team at school.
The film excels for the same reason Mila Kunis’ character wins the election for PTA president because of her simple message: the amazing freedom that there is in acknowledging you are a “bad mom.”
Not bad in the sense that you enjoy breaking the law and do not care about what happens to your children, but “bad” in the sense that you are human and you openly admit your shortcomings. You are “bad” in the sense you have stopped trying to create a false veneer of perfection by raising kids that excel at sports, have straight A’s, and speak Mandarin, but inside are deeply unhappy, stressed, and incapable of caring for themselves–or caring about anyone else, for that matter.
In rejecting the traditional roles society places on moms for a little while, Kunis is reminded of how much she craves the affection of her children, how much she loves them, and how far she will go in order to protect and nurture them. She is “bad” only in the sense that she will no longer live up to wild and crazy expectation that she, as a “perfect mom,” will facilitate dozens of extracurricular activities on behalf of her kids while managing all the other difficulties of a household.
The “good moms” are those trying to raise perfect children, attend every PTA meeting, and make gluten-free everything, but they are radically unhappy. Unrealistic expectations steamroll everything in their path, including both parents and children that cannot measure up to them. So, as Mila Kunis’ character recommends, admit you cannot live up to them and strive instead to raise good, decent children rather than ones with stacked resumes. This is a rather positive and upbeat message for a film otherwise laced with profanity and bizarre sexual innuendos for audiences to take away.
What is strange, however, is that this enduring moral is not applied to the world of marriage and the context of a husband and wife. The movie’s central couple, Mila Kunis and her onscreen husband played by David Walton, end up getting a divorce and the film ends with Kunis casually dating the school’s token hot widow (played by Jay Hernandez). If anyone should admit that they are imperfect and selfish, cease trying to live up to unrealistic expectations, and repent for failing to live up to your marital vows to be faithful to your spouse, it was that husband. Instead, he walks off into the sunset as a complete and utter idiot while Kunis becomes PTA president, gets her old job back at twice the pay, and lives out her days in their home in the Illinois suburbs. Not bad.
So, as a result, Bad Moms is an enjoyable film that is pretty funny, nicely paced (albeit with a few-too-many montages to speed up the passage of time and Kunis’ descent into college frat boy-style freedom), and with an enduring moral for the audience to walk away with. If only that moral was applied to Kunis’ onscreen marriage with her husband, it would have wrapped up a few remaining loose ends for me and emphasized the role of the family in raising good children, in addition to the unique role of a mother in providing a stable and loving home environment.
Things it’s Good for: The reminder that none of us are perfect and depend on God’s grace and care to get us through our days. When we don’t, we admit we are “bad moms” and ask God for forgiveness. In addition, we should be raising children in accordance with God’s design and instructions, rather than the expectations of society (even if those expectations, like straight A’s and Mandarin fluency, seem really good).
Things It’s Not-so-Good for: The language seems radically unnecessary, as well as sexual innuendos that were so bizarre and lewd I don’t even recall talking like that in high school, in the locker room! In addition, I think a happy ending entails that all of the elements of conflict in a story are wrapped and, if a couple goes through a rough patch, then I hope they’ll get back together, too!