Review – Mrs. Claus Would Be Appalled (“A Bad Moms Christmas”)

Bad Moms was a raucous, hilarious, and crazy movie starring Mila Kunis as a frazzled, newly-separated mommy that finally snaps and takes control of her life, along with her two BFF’s. Altogether, these three ladies kicked butt, but hey, it’s Christmas time! Somebody pass the rum-soaked egg nog!

It’s nearly Christmas and our favorite bad moms, harried Amy Mitchell (Kunis), ditzy Kiki (Kristen Bell), and potty-mouthed Carla (Kathryn Hahn) have got three unexpected surprises this year arriving at their doorsteps… their mothers! And, true to the title of the movie, these mommies are just the worst. Amy’s mom is Ruth (Christine Baranski), a control-freak and
über-bitch when it comes to having things done HER way, but she is still a loving, spoiling grandma to Amy’s two kids. Go figure. Kiki’s looney-tunes mom is Sandy (Cheryl Hines), who is a galactic stage-5 clinger to her daughter in the worst way.

Rounding out the trio is Susan Sarandon as Isis, Carla’s hard-core rock ‘n’ roll gambling mom who is always looking for a hand-out. Needless to say, these moms are causing their respective daughters to go completely bonkers. Ruth takes over Amy’s house for the “perfect Christmas”, complete with outrageous house decorations and Kenny G. playing at an extravagant party while Sandy wears clothes with her daughters face on them! Eeewww! Even Carla can’t escape when her mom hits her up for a $15K “loan”.

There are (like the first movie) several montages with the girls getting drunk, busting loose, and going wild in slo-mo with rap music as they “take back Christmas” from their crazy moms. The mall montage, the kids playland montage, the house cleaning montage, you get the idea. By far the funniest scene is Carla doing a bikini wax on male stripper/fireman Ty Swindle (Justin Hartley) that had me laughing SO hard I thought I might have to call the paramedics. Naturally, each mother learns that they’re being a pain in their daughters collective behinds by bonding and resolve to be better parents.

It’s all very cookie-cutter and why shouldn’t it be? It’s written by the same guys who wrote & directed the first movie, Scott Moore and Jon Lucas. Not that that’s a BAD thing, mind you, but it’s almost the same plot formula from the first movie. Moms get stressed, moms get drunk and wreak havoc, moms have it out with their moms, moms reconcile with each other at the end. Lather, rinse, repeat with F-bombs galore. Even though many scenes just lay there and flounder, amidst all the tedium are some damn funny moments and solid acting from the cast.

Once again this movie belongs to Hahn, even though it’s supposed to be about Kunis. Hahn delivers such a hysterical, unfiltered, and surprisingly layered performance it’s a wonder why she isn’t the central focus of the movie. Baranski nails her role with the same vicious delight she shows on The Big Bang Theory, and Sarandon and Hines look like they’re having fun. And ya gotta give it up for both Hahn and Hartley in that waxing scene; that took alot of restrain to pull it off. I’m still giggling about it.

One sad note: they only gave Christina Applegate a brief cameo here after being such a central figure in the first movie. What a shame.                 

Jingle All The Way (1996)

Call this “A Bad Fathers Christmas”. While the moms get their movie this year about being extra naughty, the dads had theirs in 1996 in this unfunny, crass, and totally dumb Christmas film about two crazed fathers who’ll do anything to get their children a stupid toy that’s the hottest thing in town.

Cabbage Patch Kids, move over, ’cause here comes Turbo-Man! Arnold Schwarzenegger is Howard Langston, a workaholic salesman with no time for his wife, Liz (Rita Wilson), and his 9-year-old son, Jamie (future Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd). Especially when compared to the “superdad” divorcee next door, sleezy Ted Maltin (Phil Hartman), who continually puts Howard in a bad light. Howard resolves (by any means possible) to redeem himself to Jamie by fulfilling his ultimate Christmas wish. A Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock?? Nope! Jamie demands a Turbo-Man action figure, based on the wildly popular Saturday morning live-action TV superhero.

But also racing to the toy store to get one (along with hundreds of others) is postal worker and equally crazed dad, Myron Larabee (comedian Sinbad) who, like Howard, with stop at nothing to get one of those damned dolls. As you might expect, it sells out, and the two become bitter rivals in their race for the much coveted action figure. A madcap, zany, and fruitless search follows with Howard looking in vain and/or running into Myron and disaster. He even buys a counterfeit Turbo-Man from a crooked mall Santa (James Belushi), which falls apart.

Meanwhile, Ted is putting the moves on Liz, while Darth Vader… I mean, Jamie hates his dad when he calls to say he can’t get that idiotic doll. There’s more hijinks with Myron and Howard trying to get that toy, bonding over coffee, yadda-yadda-yadda, and Howard going to the huge Wintertainment Parade to make amends with his selfish son. At the parade, (like the Santa mix-up in Miracle On 34th Street) Howard is mistaken for the actor who’ll play Turbo-Man on a float. Dressing up as Turbo-Man, Howard presents a limited-edition Turbo-Man doll to his son in the crowd, instead of some poor child who really deserves it.

There’s some truly awful third act forced nonsense with Jamie being chased by Myron (dressed as The Evil Dementor) and Jamie almost getting killed by falling from a roof.  Dad saves his son, son thinks his dad is the REAL Turbo-man and… ya’know, forget the rest. This Holiday movie has a horrible screenplay by Randy Kornfield (Eight Legged Freaks) and is supposed to be funny, given the talented cast like Hartman, Belushi, Wilson, Martin Mull, and many others. It isn’t. The story itself has legs, but the characters are just the worst humans on the planet. You’re supposed to root for the dad, not want him to die horribly in a fiery 16-car pile-up.

Director Brian Levant, who gave us the wildly popular movies Snow Dogs, Problem Child 3, and A Christmas Story 2 (that was sarcasm, BTW) doesn’t help either, as you might expect. He tries for comedy gold, but only delivers cheap, lame slapstick and insipid acting from his principals. Arnold CAN do comedy (Twins, True Lies), but here he’s given a bad script and bad direction. Sinbad mugs it up too much, and young Lloyd you just want to send to his room.

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