Here’s what I knew about Bad Moms before heading to the movie theater this weekend: that it’s called Bad Moms, that the poster has some ladies on it raising the roof and that those ladies are actresses I don’t actively dislike: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell. Now, having seen the movie, I also know that the men who wrote it probably don’t like their wives very much.
Before we get to that, let me tell you what happens in this movie: nothing. Here is every single one of the notes I took in my phone as I sat in the theater trying to understand why other people in the same room I was in kept laughing out loud:
- A group of moms drops kids off at school. One criticizes another for having a job and “leaving her kids all day to go to work” but aren’t they ALL leaving their kids all day... at school?
- Some moms drink alcohol
- A mom makes her kids’ lunches, takes them to school, goes to work, picks them up, takes them to extracurriculars, makes dinner
- A mom tells her 12-year-old to make his own breakfast
- A mom drives a hot rod
- A mom quits the PTA
- A mom tells her boss to pay her what he owes her
- A mom takes her daughter to the spa instead of Mandarin lessons
- Some moms put on makeup and go out for the evening
- Some moms go to dinner and talk shit about their kids
- A mom brings store-bought food to the bake sale
- A mom gets fired and then immediately rehired for double her pay
- A mom runs for PTA president on the platform of being a bad mom and wins
That last one is actually the central plot of the whole film: PTA drama. There’s a mean PTA president played by Christina Applegate and she gets overthrown. Other points of tension include the time one mom has sex, and another time that same mom has a tiny hangover and eats leftover nachos for breakfast, and another time she drives erratically. I’m not kidding that these are the most dramatic moments in the movie, aside from the part where a dad is jerking off on the internet with another woman who is not his wife. There were also supposedly jokes in this movie but I guess I didn’t get them.
The primary condescending thing about this film is that it looks at motherhood as a feat of superhuman strength, and it’s not. Motherhood is unpaid labor, yes. And that sucks. But rather than make jokes about how ridiculous that is, the writers instead thought the funny part was that mothers are in competition with each other for who can be the best mom, and wouldn’t it be CRAZY if a mom just acted like a normal person and had a night out with friends and didn’t make her family a salad for dinner. Ha ha ha? Ladies, amirite!? Always trying to outdo each other. Why can’t they just relax and be themselves?
Well, we can, and we do, and that’s why this movie is so fucking dumb. Nothing in the above list is “bad” or even funny or extraordinary or difficult or dramatic. It is a confluence of upper middle class, white people problems. Dumber still is that it was written by two men (of course): the guys who wrote The Hangover, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, in tribute to their wives.
“Jon and I are both married, and we both have two kids,” says Scott Moore. “We’re sitting at home…racking our brains, and just watching our wives in this stressed-out life trying to be a great parent…so the inspiration was basically our wives.”
If a man I loved wrote a movie for me and the plot of that movie was that being a mom is kind of hard sometimes so I have his permission to chill out and not worry about spending a little “me” time with my friends and a bottle of wine, I would leave him and take the children. (I know a really great divorce lawyer here in Los Angeles, ladies.) Like, fuck you dude? I’m fine? I know how to go get a massage. I know how to dial up a therapist. I know how to order pizza if I don’t have time to make dinner.
Look, motherhood is hard. It is also the most basic-ass job on the planet that nearly half of all humans have managed to perform for the last 200,000 years. We are all just trying our best to keep these tiny parasites alive long enough for them to safely leave the host and hopefully not become someone like Peter Thiel. Being stereotypically perfect at that job is not a premise for a movie, it is boring as fuck.
You know what’s not boring, though? My kid. She’s hilarious.
Jane Marie is a writer and the music supervisor at This American Life.