When you’ve got to stick a trampoline montage in your film you know you didn’t have enough story to tell.
And that’s the case with “A Bad Moms Christmas,” a quick-and-dirty sequel to last year’s rebellion.
In this edition (can “Bad Moms European Vacation” be far off?), the three anti-helicopter moms have to put up with their own parents over the holidays.
Mila Kunis has a mom who controls everything (Christine Baranski); Kristen Bell has a mom who smothers her (Cheryl Hines); and Kathryn Hahn has a mom who just doesn’t give a….well you get the picture.
The three original bad moms commiserate, then join forces to give their own children the kind of Christmas they wish they had.
Interestingly, there are stray dads and boyfriends who hang around the perimeter of the story but don’t really do much.
Justin Hartley (from “This is Us”) gets the most traction as a male stripper who falls for Hahn. Mom (Susan Sarandon) puts the moves on him, too, but there’s never enough time to get anything close to a rivalry going. Hartley is so miscast in this part (you can see they wanted Channing Tatum) you feel sorry for him when he has to pretend he has all the right moves.
Directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore stuff their film with plenty of cameos (Kenny G, Wanda Sykes, Christina Applegate and others are here for a minute or two) and try to even things out among the mothers. Baranski, though, gets the most screen time, sparing no expense to turn Kunis’ home into a winter wonderland. Why her daughter objects is the biggest question of all. (If mom is going to pay for everything, let her do it, right?) The two square off and wind up in a Christmas standoff.
Hines makes more of her time as the mom who just wants to be her daughter’s bestie. She wears clothes with Bell’s photo on them, buys the house next door and doesn’t really know when enough is enough. The two manage to get a therapist appointment (over the holidays!) and spill all to Sykes, who just rolls her eyes – as we do.
The Hahn/Sarandon plot is the most undeveloped of all. Mom, apparently, lacks morals and financial support, which doesn’t play well with her daughter, who waxes nether regions for a living. When mom doesn’t let her know where she is, Hahn gives up and Lucas and Moore are forced to bring everyone together at a church service.
It’s all so half-baked, “A Bad Moms Christmas” looks like the kind of treat you’d send anonymously.
Kunis, Bell and Hahn are good in these guises but they didn’t need three more moms to complicate matters. One would have been plenty and the others could have lent support.
To give you a clue just how raw this dough is, a good chunk of the film’s end is spent on a dance sequence that wouldn’t pass muster on “Ellen.”
Talk about a lump of coal.