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Movie Review

Being a mom can be a enough to make a woman crazy. No matter how much she does, it's never quite … enough.

That's doubly true at Christmas. There are presents to wrap and buy. Kids' concerts to attend. Decorating to be done. Food to be cooked. And on and on the never-ending mom's to-do list goes.

But Amy is determined to do things differently this year. To let go of the incessant urge to make everything perfect. She actually wants to—gasp—enjoy the Christmas season with her two kiddos, her new beau, Jessie, and his daughter.

Then her mom shows up.

Ruth (and her meek husband, Hank) roll through Amy's well-intended plan to relax like a rampaging Panzer brigade. That tree, Ruth gasps? Got to go. That baking? You call that BAKING!? And so on. Nothing Amy does is acceptable.

No, Christmas isn't a time to relax, to take a breath, to savor the moment, Ruth opines. It's a time to make magic—the kind of magic only a devoted mom can make! And it's all for the children, she insists, as she hands out Xboxes and iPhones. "I'm just trying to give the grandchildren the Christmas they deserve," she tells Amy.

Meanwhile, Amy's two besties—Kiki and Carla—are having unexpected mommy problems of their own. Kiki's mother, Debby, has arrived early, showering her beloved daughter with constant, suffocating affection. She can't comprehend why Kiki doesn't want her around. Every. Single. Moment.

Carla's got different issues with her free-spirit—and freeloading—mother, Isis. A lifelong groupie/vagrant/hippie-type, Isis typically only shows up (in this case, via hitchhiking with a truck driver) when she needs money. Isis has never really checked many boxes off when it comes to being a good mother. But this time, she says, she wants it to be different. (Or maybe she just wants money to gamble and smoke away. Carla's not sure.)

Yeah, being a mom can be pretty complicated. But you know what's potentially even more complicated? Being a daughter.

Positive Elements

Movies often depict mother-daughter relationships as being fraught with emotional peril and conflict. And so it is here, as Amy and Ruth, Kiki and Debby, Carla and Isis all have their share of seriously neurotic landmines to navigate. But ever so gradually, each mother-daughter pair successfully navigates them. And by the time the credits roll, the movie manages to deliver some sweet moments as these characters learn important lessons about humility, forgiveness, love and extending grace amid deep character flaws.

Amy, for instance, despises her mother's tank-like determination to make their Christmas an event for the ages. (A live camel wanders through the house at one point, and a "12 Days of Christmas" display out front contains a box of live turtle doves.) But eventually Amy learns (especially via a sweet scene with her father, Hank) more about the insecurities that drive her mom. She's realizes that Ruth sincerely wants to shower Amy's kids with love in the wake of their mom's divorce earlier that year. And so Amy reaches out to reconnect with Ruth after kicking her mother out and telling her she never wants to see her again. (Which she realizes was a mistake in part because of how that angry decision traumatizes her two kids, who love their grandma.)

Kiki and Debby, Carla and Isis have similar paths to walk as they learn to embrace each other healthily … and put some healthier boundaries in place to boot.

Spiritual Content

A lengthy scene takes place in a Catholic Church aptly called Our Mother of Perpetual Suffering. We hear a children's choir singing Christmas carols in the background. Ruth makes some veiled-but-disparaging comments about Jewish people. Someone prays, "Please, God!" Someone says that Christmas is "Jesus' birthday."

Sexual Content

If everything I've written so far feels vaguely sentimental and sappy, it kind of is. But that dramatic setup exists largely to serve as a backdrop for this movie's nonstop tsunami of sexually tinged dialogue, innuendo and crudity.

Carla works at a spa, where she has the unenviable job of giving both men and women genital waxes. Her occupation serves as fodder for extremely crude, lewd and verbally descriptive dialog about women's and men's anatomies. A lengthy scene involves a male customer (with whom she eventually becomes romantically involved); both of them talk in detail about what's happening as she removes hair from his genitals. (We see him nude from the side at one point, but creative camera angles prevent us from seeing his crotch.)

It turns out the man is a well-endowed male stripper. (Something the camera repeatedly verifies as we see him dancing shirtless in skin-tight underwear.) He does multiple dance routines (including one in a bar full of cheering women) that include sexually oriented movements and pantomimes. (A vignette during the credits shows the entire cast, except for the children, mimicking his sexy moves.) He also does a grinding dance with Isis on a bar top.

Kiki and her husband, Kent, are about to have sex (we see them in bed making out) when Kiki realizes her mother is lurking in the corner. Debby makes crude comments about Kent's aroused anatomy (outlined by the covers), and congratulates the couple on having such a vibrant sex life. Both Kiki and Kent are horrified that her mother almost saw them having sex, and it's hinted that it's not the first time that she's been present while they were being intimate. Debby gives her daughter very specific anatomical sex advice; she also compares the size of Kent's anatomy to her husband's.

Jessie's young daughter talks about overhearing her father and Amy screaming at each other in the bedroom. Amy tries to explain to the girl that they were "happy screams," and that she and Jessie were just playing a game. "You played the game seven times," the little girl intones.

Amy, Kiki and Carla get drunk at a mall, dancing and grinding suggestively on a Santa Claus there. Elsewhere, it's suggested that Isis has casual sex with a Sky Zone trampoline park employee (which later likely contributes to her getting a job there).

Carla and Isis both wear cleavage-revealing outfits repeatedly. Isis gushes about taking her daughter to a male stripper show. We hear multiple conversations about women's breasts and one about genital warts. There's a visual gag about a sex toy. Carla announces in public, "I am drunk and horny. I repeat, I am drunk and horny." Kenny G puts a saxophone between his legs suggestively. Various couples are shown kissing, including Carla and another woman (a scene played for humor).

There are two visual jokes about sugar cookies shaped like the male anatomy. Isis tells someone that she gets by with her "wits and t-ts." A male stripper complains that he's not taken seriously, saying, "Most women just see me as an object and have sex with me, and then they leave." Someone suggests that divorce "violates the sanctity of marriage."

Violent Content

Amy comes home on Christmas Eve to find hundreds of people in her house at an extravagant party her mother has planned in her absence. Amy loses it, and starts knocking things over and violently destroying all manner of decorations.

A teen guy gets hit in the crotch, which is played for humor. He's later hit there again during a slow-motion game of dodgeball. Isis falls off a bar top and nearly knocks herself out, suffering a concussion (her third in the last month, we're told). Amy drives very recklessly to church.

Crude or Profane Language

About 40 f-words, with four of them being paired with either Jesus' or God's names, and four being linked to "mother." (Three of those harsh pairings of God and the f-word are uttered by a young child.) More than 20 s-words. God's name is abused about 30 times. Jesus' name is taken in vain half a dozen times. Other vulgarities include "b--ch," "a--," "p-ss" and "h---." We repeatedly hear many crude slang terms for both the male and female anatomy a combined total of about 35 times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Isis smokes marijuana joints twice, including once in public. (When Carla tells her she can't smoke cigarettes at Sky Zone, Isis responds, "I'm not smoking a cigarette.")

Various characters knock down all manner of drinks at different points in the film, with Amy, Kiki and Carla getting visibly drunk in a scene. Another lengthy scene takes place in an Irish pub, with the mostly female characters drinking beer and shots.

At one point, Ruth threatens Hank that she'll "change out your heart pills."

Other Negative Elements

Each of the three older mothers relates to her respective daughter in selfish, unhealthy and inappopriate ways. Ruth mocks and belittles Amy, refusing to hear anything her daughter has to say about how she wants Christmas to go. (Amy calls her mother "Saddam Hussein"). Debby clings claustrophobically to Kiki, even making up stories (such as having cancer) to elicit her daughter's affection. Isis manipulates Carla into giving her a large sum of money, and it's implied that Isis is liable to dump it into an out-of-control gambling habit (though that doesn't actually happen).

Amy, Kiki and Carla get drunk at a mall and behave, generally, very badly—including stealing a Christmas tree from a Foot Locker store, knocking an employee down along the way. (We see them running with it through the mall, and it's clear no one stops them, nor are there any consequences for a ridiculous theft that's played completely for humor value.) There's a joke about passing gas. Carla gushes, "Let's put the a-- back in Christmas."

A child tries to drink water from a Christmas tree stand. When it's revealed that Santa Claus isn't real, a child asks a parent accusingly, "What else have you lied about?"

Carla and Isis pose as charity volunteers outside of a grocery store, asking for donations and actually stealing groceries from customers' bags without asking them. (Again, there are no consequences for their actions.)

Conclusion

A Bad Moms Christmas is at times sweet, often silly, but almost constantly salacious. There are a handful of nice moments. But this over-the-top comedic take on complex mother-daughter relationships still spends a lot more time on the naughty list.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Comedy

Author

Cast

Mila Kunis as Amy; Kristen Bell as Kiki; Kathryn Hahn as Carla; Christine Baranski as Ruth; Susan Sarandon as Isis; Cheryl Hines as Sandy; Jay Hernandez as Jessie; Lyle Brocato as Kent; Justin Hartley as Ty; Peter Gallagher as Hank; Oona Laurence as Jane; Emjay Anthony as Dylan

Director

Jon Lucas ( )Scott Moore ( )

Distributor

STX Entertainment

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

November 1, 2017

On Video

February 6, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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