Now that Halloween has passed, it’s not too early for Hollywood to unleash its first Christmas comedy. But there’s never a good time to release a bad one.
Nothing like celebrating the holidays with a puerile, sentimental and foul-mouthed slapstick farce for kids masquerading as “adult” entertainment.
The modest pleasures of “Bad Moms,” a farce about Chicago mothers who give up leaning in, trying to have it all and devoting their every waking second to ensuring the perfect home/marriage/childhood, are but a memory. Their profane, drunken escapades are all in the past.
How to top the tipsy hijinx of Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and the ribald riot Kathryn Hahn? Bring in the moms’ moms for “A Bad Moms Christmas.”
So mild-mannered homemaker Kiki (Bell) is smothered by her needy, clingy and bubbly to the point of inappropriate mother, played by Cheryl Hines.
Bawdy salon waxing specialist Carla (Hahn) gets a surprise visit from her ex-rock roadie/compulsive gambler of a mother (Susan Sarandon).
And freshly-divorced Amy (Kunis) loses her dreams of a “mellow” holiday when the rich and imperious Ruth who gave birth to her (Christine Baranski) returns to Chicago to school her on how a “proper” Christmas has to be managed.
“Mothers don’t ENjoy Christmas,” Ruth purrs, “mothers GIVE joy.”
Baranski, whose face is on the Wikipedia page defining “imperious,” was born to play Ruth — over-spending, over-decorating, leading a Catholic choir of “ringers” in a neighborhood caroling competition (Remember her in “Mama Mia?”).
She is pretty much the saving grace of this graceless romp through shopping, tree-stealing, grinding on a mall Santa and a fierce dodgeball fight at a kids’ zone entertainment complex.
The men — Peter Gallagher plays Ruth’s long-suffering husband, Justin Hartley plays a stripper getting his junk waxed by Carla, and Jay Hernandez just takes up space — are non-entities and the kids are nothing more than props; props who mug for the camera.
At least Wanda Sykes is here, as Kiki’s psychotherapist, ready to offer a rant on why moms of all ages go crazy. “YOU make them that way.”
Releasing studio STX rushed this out on a Wednesday without previews for critics because they, too, know that there’s no good time to release a bad Christmas comedy…unless you roll out so early that you postpone suffering by comparison to every other holiday movie to come this year.
And no, there’s not a “Madea Christmas Story” to take the pressure off.
MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some drug use
Cast: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, Susan Sarandon, Jay Hernandez, Wanda Sykes, Christina Applegate, Peter Gallagher
Running time: 1:44