‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ Isn’t the Best Present Under the Tree

The original trio from the 2016 summer-hit, “Bad Moms” return to conquer the yuletide season in “A Bad Moms Christmas.” When Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) become overwhelmed by the list of standards and expectations that come around this time of year, they decide, in typical “Bad Moms” fashion, to rebel. But unexpected visits from the bad Grandmas quickly add fuel to the holiday fire.

Joining the chaos this time around is Susan Sarandon, who arrives at her daughter Carla’s (Hahn) house having just hitched a ride on an eighteen-wheeler truck, dawning cowboys boots and a joint in hand. Entirely oppositional is Cheryl Hines, playing the mother to Bell’s Kiki, who is as overbearing as they come. Lonely from the death of her husband, she clings to her daughter in the unhealthiest of ways. Going so far as to sit in the corner of her daughter’s room while her daughter and son-in-law begin to have sex. She’s a self-proclaimed “proud mom” who takes the title far too seriously. From the moment she arrives at the house wearing a customized sweater with Kiki’s face plastered on it, to an as-cliché-as-they-come mother-daughter therapy session at Wanda Sykes’ office, the relationship is the least appealing of the three.

But it is the arrival of Kunis’ mother, Ruth, played wonderfully by Christine Baranski, who steals the show. Bursting through the door, she immediately gifts the grandchildren with brand new x-box game stations and begins criticizing her daughter’s every decoration and motive for the holiday. A perfectionist, Ruth prides herself on flaunting appearance and status. Out of the mother-daughter trio, she is the least like her spawn.

Equally as entertaining as Baranski’s Ruth is Kathryn Hahn’s Carla. Any scene with Hahn is a deserved treat, and her character is given much more of an arc this time around. She finds love in a male-stripper, played by “This Is Us” star Justin Hartley, and the relationship she shares with her mother, Isis (Sarandon), is quite rocky. It proves to give some heart to the otherwise outlandish character. But no matter how crazy her usually effective one-liners get, Hahn always garners empathy.  

To illustrate their rebellion of stress centered around the holiday, the bad moms decide to drunkenly parade throughout the shopping mall in a cringe-worthy slow-motion sequence that sees the titular trio grind on Santa’s lap, steal a tree from Ladies Foot Locker, and pour liquor into the sample tastings at William Sonoma.

The writer-director duo, Scott Moore and Jon Lucas, responsible for the first film, as well as the comparable male-driven “Hangover” trilogy, recycle many of the same gags from the predecessor, but simply repackage them in holiday flare. The result is a fun, yet, watered-down rehash of much of what made the predecessor entertaining.

Upon delivery of a successful box office, which shouldn’t be too difficult given the film’s relatively low $28 million budget, it is inevitable that the “Bad Moms” will return for another outing.

“A Bad Moms Christmas” opens in theaters Nov. 1.