REVIEW: ‘A Bad Mom’s Christmas’ ★★★

By Felix Albuerne Jr., Film Buff
Last Updated: Thursday, November 02, 2017, 3:18 PM EDT

You’d have to be a real grinch to not find something to laugh out loud about in “A Bad Mom’s Christmas,” the follow-up to 2016’s “Bad Moms.”

Most of the original cast returns for another sweet and raunchy, over-the-top romp, this time having a ball taking on traditional notions of the role of “Mom” in creating the “perfect” Christmas for the rest of the family.

The film is often hilarious, and benefits greatly to the film’s new “moms”, Cheryl Hines, Christine Baranski and Susan Sarandon.

What’s it about?

As Christmas time approaches, our favorite overworked, under-appreciated moms – overachiever Amy (Mila Kunis), sweet stay-at-home mom Kiki (Kristen Bell) and potty-mouthed rock-n-roll mom Carla (Kathryn Hahn) – are each getting ready for the holidays in their own ways.

As Amy laments over the traditional annual expectation of mothers to do all the gift shopping, all the decorating, all the cooking and attend all the holiday events, she gets one more holiday challenge that easily surpasses all others in terms of stress potential. Her elitist, perfectionist mother, Ruth (Baranski), will be coming for Christmas.

In short order, both Kiki and Carla discover that they, too, will be hosting their mothers for the holidays. For Kiki, that means dealing with Sandy (Hines), who wears clothes with her daughter’s face on them and generally doesn’t recognize her Kiki’s need for “personal space.”

“The guest room isn’t ready, Mom.”

“Oh, that’s OK! I’ll just sleep with you! Big spoon, little spoon!”

Carla, on the other hand, has the opposite problem. Her mom, Isis (Sarandon), hasn’t been around in years, and generally only shows up when she needs a loan to pay off gambling debts. Fair to say Isis’s approach to parenting is somewhat “hands-off.”

As Christmas Day gets closer, stress levels go through the roof as Sandy gets clingier, Ruth attempts to “correct” all of Amy’s botched (in her opinion) efforts at creating a magical Christmas for her kids, and Isis, well, just keeps drinking and showing everyone where Carla got her wild-child instincts.

Throw in a hot Santa stripper (Justin Hartley, TV's “This is Us”) with an interest in Carla, a battle over a swanky Christmas house party featuring Kenny G (“He’s a national treasure!”), and a drunken Christmas tree heist in the mall, and you’ve got one very memorable holiday misadventure.

Grandmothers rule

While Kunis, Bell, and Hahn headline “A Bad Mom’s Christmas” and it’s their wacky stories the film follows, the real stars here, are – no surprise – Baranski, Hines, and Sarandon.

Each one of them clearly look like they’re having a blast playing their roles, and each in their own way bring warmth and depth to what might otherwise be simply stereotypes of domineering, overly clingy or absentee mothers.

Credit the surprising nuance of each of their roles to returning writers/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who retain a sense of authenticity to the relationships between mothers and daughters in adulthood at the core of the film while the Christmastime-themed chaos reigns on the film’s surface.

Worth seeing?

It should be noted that “A Bad Mom’s Christmas” follows in now a growing movie tradition of R-rated, sweetly profane fare making its way to big screens in time for the actual holidays.

From 2015’s “The Night Before” to last year’s “Office Christmas Party” and “Why Him?”, Hollywood seems to have noticed a need for these types of no-holds-barred comedic releases at a time of the year when the grown-ups are really stressing over making the holidays perfect for everyone else.

“A Bad Mom’s Christmas” is a worthy addition to this collection. Someday, these movies should all be packed in a holiday gift set and enjoyed together with family and friends with lots of spiked egg nog once the kids have gone to bed.

For now, if you need a break from the holiday prep that has already begun for some, though we’re still weeks even from Thanksgiving, feel free to turn your brain off and enjoy “A Bad Mom’s Christmas.”

Mind the film’s R-rating, however -- plenty of F-bombs sprinkled in with the Christmas cheer here.

A Bad Mom’s Christmas

Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Hernandez, Cheryl Hines, Peter Gallagher, Justin Hartley, with Christine Baranski, and Susan Sarandon. Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
Running time: 100 minutes
Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some drug use.