It’s nice to see a gender-switch on a typically male-driven raunchy comedy every once in a while. While Mike and Dave was an unexpected crowd-pleaser I also enjoy seeing films like Sisters where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler get to be ridiculous and over-the-top and gross-out just like “one of the boys.” This film had immediate potential as it sports the same writers of The Hangover and has a very talented cast of actresses in Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate and Kathryn Hahn. So the question is: did it live up to its talent and deliver a funny and appropriately crass film-going experience for one and all?
The plot for this one is pretty straight-forward: Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) is a hard-working mother who does way more than she can physically handle and seems to be at the mercy of her kids and the PTA run by Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her minions (Jada Pinkett and Annie Mumolo). She finally reaches her breaking point when she catches her incompetent husband cheating on her and loses all desire to be a “good mom” after meeting up with two others on similar paths. One of them is Kiki (Kristen Bell), an innocent mother of four who is very much so under the control of her nagging husband, and Carla (Kathryn Hahn), a single mother that doesn’t mind hitting on the other dads in front of their wives and has somewhat of a salty personality. The three of them decide to take a break and go all out resulting in some negative reactions from other moms and especially the PTA.
The casting choices were wonderful! but I think everyone was on board and had a lot of fun, which really showed. Mila Kunis is the “straight” character for the most part but she gets to let her hair down quite a bit as well and shows that she can be the funny one in a comedy and not just the romantic interest roles that she’s usually pigeon-holed into in films like this. She showed some acting chops here that I’ve never seen from her before. I absolutely love Kristen Bell as a performer and a person and she was very funny as the pent-up Kiki, who sometimes says these brilliant deadpan lines that had me rollin’ in the aisles. Kathryn Hahn seems to be the real break-out star according to the critics and that’s because she has excellent comedic timing and some terrific lines. She is the most “out-there” of the three moms and everything she says is insane. She steals every single scene. Christina Applegate plays the villain and having not really seen her much in the trailer, it wasn’t what I expected. However, she plays the villain as such an evil character that you just hate her but at the same time she is very funny. It’s hard to pull off both but Applegate is a great actress. Annie Mumolo and Jada Pinkett do fine as her friends but I’d say the former is more impressive than Jada overall.
Above all else, this is an entertaining and fun film. I mentioned Sisters in the opening of this review and often times my mind went to that but it also had a few elements of Mean Girls as well. In fact, Gwendolyn and her compadres seem to me like the villains in that film but all grown up. There are some very funny sequences in the film with one particularly inspired scene taking place in a grocery store with our three main characters drinking alcohol and running amok (the cap to that scene is Kunis telling her children that they may have to shop at another store now). There are almost too many parts to point out all the funny stuff but an unexpected aspect of the film is its underlying sweetness. This movie is very much a “mom-power” film and really backs up the hard work that mothers do all the time without getting very much appreciation. The movie pushes this message forward without getting preachy or self-serving.
The humour is funny and even sharp at times and while the movie is no masterpiece of comedy, it is still a highly entertaining film that succeeds on the strength of its performers and their comedic timing.
Also, stay tuned during the credits for a nice surprise (and it’s not bloopers!)
* (Brutal; the worst rating)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)