REVIEW: Bad Moms

5 09 2016

We’re at a cultural moment where parents are more stressed and confused than ever as they try to prepare children for a newly competitive world while also imparting the requisite cultural norms necessary for survival. (Never mind having any time for their own personal happiness and satisfaction.) It’s the perfect time for a movie like Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s “Bad Moms” to come along and assure audiences that there is still value in just being a good, decent person. If only it were a little bit funnier, the film would be a cultural touchstone for generations to come.

Lucas and Moore’s background writing “The Hangover” shows as the film’s key trio bears a striking resemblance to the Wolfpack. Mila Kunis’ Amy has her act most together but struggles to find satisfaction amidst the demands placed on her by a louse of a husband (think Bradley Cooper’s Phil Wenneck). Kristen Bell’s Kiki is a meek, sexually naive mother of four who mistakes her ignorance for happiness (see Ed Helms’ Stu Price). Kathryn Hahn’s single swinger Carla proves a wild card in any scenario (sounds like Zach Galifianakis’ Alan Garner).

As they fight back against societal pressures to maintain the image of perfection, enthusiasm and optimism, these moms’ antics are more likely to spark discussion groups in sociology seminars than set social media ablaze with a killer line. Their candid conversations, easily more memorable than their Top 40-scored romps of bad behavior, are notable for the way the women speak to each other. They speak less as characters or friends and more as field workers looking for answers to research questions about modern motherhood.

Never fear, humor-seekers: Lucas and Moore always provide a joke line as a response. But “Bad Moms” doesn’t need a sequel so much as it needs a sitcom. In that format, the creators might really be able to delve into the issues that so clearly concern them without succumbing to the pressure for a giant comedic set piece on such a consistent basis. B-2stars





REVIEW: Hall Pass

4 07 2011

It’s a shame that “Hall Pass” doesn’t have a less contrived script or a bit more maturity.  If it had these things, it would be one heck of a comedy.  But alas, it doesn’t, and what we are stuck with is a few decent laughs held together by a string of ridiculous events.

It could be worse, though, as Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play off each other pretty well.  Their sex-crazed babbling combined with a blooming barely-adolescent brain and the libido of a retirement home patient re-entering the game is absolutely outlandish.  Yet as childish as practically every line and situation was, I would find myself chuckling in spite of it, mostly along with Sudeikis.  Maybe it’s because he’s used to finding nuggets of gold inside of crap at “Saturday Night Live,” but whatever it is, the man is some kind of funny.   Wilson, on the other hand, feels past his prime with humor quality receding almost as precipitously as his hairline.

But these two hopeless husbands get a chance to live out their dreams in order to relieve their woebegone wives (played by Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate).  In the words of Joy Behar, it’s a “hall pass.”  The movie never really cashes in on the high concept, just as Wilson and Sudeikis’ helpless sex drive leads them nowhere while their wives, in the words of Justin Timberlake, “get their sexy on.”

The stupid shenanigans distract from anything meaningful that “Hall Pass” might have to say about marriage.  I’m doubting there actually was anything in the way of commentary as the characters sure don’t seem to have any scruples about the messed-up events of the movie.  It’s definitely a far cry from The Farrelly Brothers’ “There’s Something About Mary.”  As for the conclusion of this review, I’m not really sure whether to steer you towards or away from the movie: it’s just another middling, forgettable comedy that I couldn’t feel more ambivalently about.  C / 





Random Factoid #329

22 06 2010

Today, I went to the San Diego Zoo.  I saw all sorts of pandas, koalas, and polar bears.  But what I really couldn’t get off my mind was “Anchorman.”

Anyone who has seen Will Ferrell’s comedic gem knows that the climactic moments take place at the San Diego Zoo.  Ron Burgundy has relapsed into drunkenness until the love of his life, Veronica Corningstone is in danger at the zoo.  She is doing a report and winds up in the bear cages.

So naturally, when we passed the bear cages, I couldn’t help but wonder if Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd, and Steve Carell had filmed in them.  I’m sure they probably used some sound stage for the trained bears, but I can imagine, can’t I?

On a closing note, stay classy, San Diego.