PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Bad Moms was not just fitfully amusing but pretty darn good.
And it was boffo at the box office.
Thus the inevitable comedy sequel, adorned in holiday wrapping.
But A Bad Moms Christmas is just plain bad.
Suffering from a bad case of sequelitis – that is, lazily concocted for the obvious built-in audience it brings to the marketplace – ABMC fails to make a case for its own existence and comes off as a slapped-together misstep a lunchtime in the making.
Oh, it garners a few naughty laughs by picking low-hanging comedy fruit, but we end up as embarrassed for the participants as we are entertained by their antics.
A Bad Moms Christmas offers two trios of mothers, the young-moms-gone-wild from last year’s pleasantly unpretentious, overachieving original – portrayed once again by Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn – and their respective mothers, played by Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon.
And this year, so the convoluted and unconvincing premise goes, the grown-up daughters/mothers get to host their own mamas for the holidays.
So the follow-up ends up also being A Bad Daughters Christmas.
Sharing the director’s chair and screenplay authorship, as they did in the original, are Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who also wrote and directed 21 & Over and scripted all three hangover flicks. Once again, the co-creators explore the theme of motherhood and the many variations of effective parenting that exist.
And once again, the title characters feel underappreciated and overwhelmed.
But charm and wit have given way to shoddiness and wrongheadedness, and this second offering is somehow simultaneously too similar to and too different from its predecessor.
Yes, three new mothers have been added to the mix, But the screenplay gives each senior mom one note to play – Baranski is demanding, Hines is clingy, Sarandon is hedonistic – and they end up being cardboard cutouts.
As for the R-rated, overly crude language, it’s a bit much, sounding at times – in the name of intended shock value — like middle school school kids who have just learned some exciting curse words and can’t wait to spray them around.
And one clue that the narrative wasn’t sufficiently fleshed out and polished is the inclusion of far too many filler montages that do little other than kill time.
So we’ll raise 1-1/2 stars out of 4 for one messy maternal mirth-fest. A Bad Moms Christmas is bad moms having a bad Christmas in a bad movie.