A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the clown prince of Asgard in “Thor: Ragnarok,” the grammatically incorrect “A Bad Moms Christmas,” and the strange “The Killing of the Sacred Deer.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Nick Dixon have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Chris Hemsworth’s funny take on his most famous character in “Thor: Ragnarok,” the lump of coal that is “A Bad Moms Christmas” and the strangest movie of the year, “The Killing of the Sacred Deer.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Lois Lee to have a look at the clown prince of Asgard in “Thor: Ragnarok,” the grammatically incorrect “A Bad Moms Christmas, the strange “The Killing of the Sacred Deer” and the religious drama “Novitiate.”
If you are to believe the new Mila Kunis comedy, “A Bad Mom Christmas,” the Yuletide is a time of joy… unless you are a mother. “Moms don’t enjoy,” we’re told, “they give joy. That‘s how being a mom works.”
In 2016’s “Bad Moms” Amy (Mila Kunis) Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) were a Coffee Klatch of moms fed up with the burden of having to be perfect. Today not much has changed except for the weather. They are all still overworked and underappreciated as the holidays approach. “I feel like a giant stress ball from November to New Years,” says Amy.
On top of providing a memorable Christmas for their families, the original three moms, in the kind of miracle that only happens in Christmas movies, are ambushed by their own mothers, the primly perfect-in-every-way Ruth (Christine Baranski), the overbearing Sandy (Cheryl Hines) and former REO Speedwagon roadie Isis (Susan Sarandon). Each are as welcome as a bad case of Christmas Itch and all three complicate an already complicated season. “Remember when the holidays were actually fun?” asks Amy. “Let’s take Christmas back.”
Only in the era of climate change would it seem appropriate to release the snowbound “A Bad Moms Christmas” the day after Halloween. The first “Bad Moms” movie was a hell raising grrrls-gone-wild romp with plenty of gags but this one falls into the sloppy sentimental trap of many holiday movies.
It’s an hour-and-forty-minutes of dime store psychology—families aren’t perfect but they’re the only family you’ll ever have—that makes “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever” look like “The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance” by comparison. It wants to warm the cockles of your heart with its tale of mothers and kids but none of it feels authentic. The heart-tugging stuff doesn’t tug because none of it feels authentic and the raunchy humour—the potty mouth kids, endless vaginal waxing jokes, the twerking on Santa and gingerbread cookies shaped like… well, you can guess—feels wedged in. Imagine a Hallmark Movie with male strippers and you get the idea.
It’s not the cast’s fault the script is drier than Aunt Ethel’s Christmas turkey. All of them—particularly Baranski and Hahn—are game but cannot turn this lump of coal into a polished diamond. Kenny G earns points as a willing pop-culture punchline and Baranski should win some sort of special prize for squeezing as many laughs out of this material as she does. Her take on “the most critical human being on the planet”—“When I was nine I made her a Mother’s Day card,” Amy says, “and she returned it with notes.”—is worthy of a much better movie.
“A Bad Mom Christmas” only gets one thing 100% right. “We’re going to watch ‘Love, Actually,’” says Amy. “Dumb movie,” sneers Ruth.
Richard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the the rollercoaster action of “Jason Bourne,” the heartwarming (and slightly raunchy) comedy of “Bad Moms,” “Cafe Society’s” period piece humour and the online intrigue of “Nerve.”
From the comedy minds who gave us “The Hangover” comes another trio. This time it’s less a Wolf Pack than it is a Coffee Klatch of moms fed up with the burden of having to be perfect. It has its raunchy moments—thanks to Kathryn Hahn’s spirited performance—but by and large “Bad Moms” might better be titled “Tired Moms.
Amy (Mila Kunis) is a thirty-two-year-old frazzled mom struggling to keep up with her family life and work. She has two kids, the overachieving Jane (Oona Laurence) and Dylan (Emjay Anthony) and a husband (David Walton) “who sometimes feels like a third child.”
“I’m doing the best I can,” she sighs. “That makes it sadder,” replies Jane.
When an epiphany turns her from stressed mother to bad mom, she sleeps in, lets her kids make their own breakfast and drinks loads of wine with two other exhausted mothers, Carla (Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell). Having tossed the shackles of the daily grind of motherhood aside, Amy is reborn, but not everyone is pleased. Her newfound freedom puts her in the crosshairs of the fascistic PTA president Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate).
The mothers in “Bad Moms” aren’t bad moms, they’re simply fed up with trying to live up to the expectations. The movie has laughs, mostly courtesy of Hahn’s laser sharp delivery of lines like, “I feel like everything that comes out of your mouth is a cry for help,” but mostly this is a manifesto for taking a breath and giving both yourself and your kids a chance to enjoy their childhoods. As Amy becomes the Norma Rae of mothers, she discovers taking a step away from what she thought she should do as a mom is the best way to discover the joy of parenthood.
It’s a story of the power of friendship and despite the promise of raunch “Bad Moms” is filled with gooey warmth. The set up is formulaic—you know the bond between children or parents will only grow and get stronger by the time the end credits roll—but despite the obvious story, and some obvious plot holes, the movie succeeds because underneath it all it’s not just about them talking about their kids, their exhaustion or how to best to dress for a night out. It’s about taking control of their lives, standing up to injustice and, yes, getting a date with the handsome widowed dad (Jay Hernandez) who drops his kid off at the playground everyday.