A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)

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I was relatively lukewarm but fine with the first film back in…oh, only last year. Yes, the moms are back and this time they’re cashing in early for the Christmas season in a so called comedy that is definitely not warranted and does more of the same with extra dirty jokes and baubles thrown in for good measure.

The nightmare of Christmas is around the corner and so comes the stress of being a perfect mother for Amy (Mila Kunis) who tries to make everything perfect for her children and keep this time of year under wraps and not go crazy. Alas her perfectionist mum is arriving and Ruth (Christine Baranski) won’t let her daughters’ wishes satisfy her. Amy can only break free with fellow stressed mums Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) who also happen to be reunited with their maternal guardians in time for December 25th.

Just the convenience alone of all three mums coming home for Christmas was crazy stupid to suit the screenplay but topping off this with this trio also attending midnight mass because the script demands some redemption and forgiveness is insanely stupid. That is one issue with the writing, another huge one is the characters just aren’t likable; aside from maybe Hank, all of them feel like crudely drawn stereotypes and you can’t connect to them because they steal and lie. The only way the writers feel like they’re redeeming these factors is by constantly going on about how they’re tired mums who deserve fun. First time around though, there’s an interesting social aspect in them going against the grain of being so called super mums but this time they’re just kicking it against their own mums without any joy or clever storytelling.

Calling this a comedy film doesn’t feel right either as I didn’t laugh or even smile once throughout this boring ordeal. There’s aspects like having a character called Isis, nothing clever about it, just heck, call her that because it’s funny to have a name linked to terror. A young child also swears very near the beginning not to be cute or apt to her behaviour or anything intelligent, just to laugh at the fact they have a child swearing. This movie literally revels in ‘dicking around’ as they say umpteen times, with excessive swearing, sexual dirtiness and mums sticking it to the man/their mums in more of that 2016 slow mo chaos where they go to town on booze and profanity.

It’s a film with more of the same and further enforces my reasoning that this film really never needed to be thrust upon us. It being churned out so quickly really makes it clear this a desperate cash grab for the jolly holiday period. This and ‘Daddy’s Home’ swiping at the Christmas box office season is ridiculous as they’re both frankly unnecessary sequels. I guess I’ll try and be nice somewhere and say that the dodgeball scene at a trampoline park is quite good and squares off characters nicely but aside from this the film does nothing to dispel predictability and tedium.

Mila Kunis is more of the same as the capable yet quite plain lead, who has her mother to contend with. I was kind to Kathryn Hahn with my previous review but this time her rudeness and blindly drunken sexual naughtiness is dreary and too much. Kristen Bell is a likable presence again as the slightly kooky Kiki with an even kookier parent. Cheryl Hines is weirdly deranged and they wring this idea dry constantly leaving only her customised Kiki pyjamas as an amusing quality. It’s Christine Baranski who walks away as the almost saving grace, her brilliant sharp tongue and no nonsense rich granny attitude is perfectly played.

In all honesty, I zoned out of this film more than once. It’s a needless and unfunny sequel wrapped up in tinsel and it left me icy cold instead of festively fuzzy.

3.5/10

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Bad Moms (2016)

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Mildly funny but a movie I feel caters more for the female spectator, with plenty of lady laughs in my screening backing up that point. It has humour, solid cast performances but it feels long and nothing special.

Frantically running errands day in and day out hardly backed by her childish husband is Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis). Her kids school is pretty much run by obsessive PTA mom Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), so when Amy decides to say no to her rules and become a bad mom along with wild Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and home-bound Kiki (Kristen Bell) it causes major friction.

It’s a pretty obvious rom-com, as soon as the clearly hunky male comes into the picture who just happens to be a manly widow then you know Amy will end up with him. The characters are all types we’ve seen before, the awkward one, the overly sexual one and the typical lead who needs a boost in morale to be her true self. Though everything is predictable, the movie chugs along nicely.

Well, actually on the most part it does, there are some times when it feels long. It’s an odd one as there’s points where the film doesn’t appear smooth like each scene feels tacked on and not wholly part of what we’ve seen before. At least the struggles of female parenting are handled well and there’s nice poignant moments about how hard it is for mums, single or otherwise, to raise children and work and live.

The laughs themselves seem to land more appreciated with the women watchers, as a mid twenties male I did chuckle from time to time. There’s humour with a tacky glossy PowerPoint presentation about a bake sale, the cattiness of Gwendolyn is great and the house party with Martha Stewart is comedic for a while but mostly it’s average. They run crazily past the comedy rule of three as at least six mums get up and say why they’re bad, concluding in a poorly added ‘Mean Girls’-esque quip from a lonely parent.

Change wise, you know the characters have to progress but the transformation the three go through feels odd and rushed, Kiki gets control and a sultry black dress, Hahn covers up and makes her son lunch and Gwendolyn de-ices herself for the gals as if all it took for them to alter their personalities were a couple of samey speeches from Amy. On the plus side the opening madness of Amy’s duties is well done, the hipster world of her workplace is on point and to their credit the credits are interesting as we see the actors real mothers discuss their lives.

Mila Kunis is a capable lead and shows she can be funny, smart and affable. She bounces off the other two bad moms and they make for an engaging believable posse of trouble. Kristen Bell is fun to watch as she looks on panicked often, espicially as they play with her pink hoodie. So when she lets loose and drinks it’s amusing to see her shift character. Hahn excels in this role, the mad electric wire frayed with energy and sexual confidence gives the film the copious amounts of cursing. Applegate is the best to watch, lapping up her role as the steel faced bitch.

It has comedy in places and balances the serious side of parental issues but it never feels like it goes anywhere or knows where to take itself. At least it’s backed by a healthy group of exciting and watchable actresses who give the movie drive.

5.5/10

Suicide Squad (2016)

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Finally, after some admittedly brilliantly edited and fun trailers, the finished article is here. I had been anticipating this for a long time and I’m not even much of a DC nut. With all these expectations I feel that, whilst it’s much better than Martha vs. Martha: Dawn of Justice, it’s still a messy disappointment.

Fearing what could happen in the aftermath of Superman’s ‘death’, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) wants to assemble the baddest of the bad to combat any world threatening forces. Amongst her wishlist are superb hit-man Floyd Lawton aka Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Chato Santana aka El Diablo (Jay Hernandez). Headed up by Colonel Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) this villainous and deranged group are tasked with stopping some magical cronies.

What I did like about this superhero…or perhaps anti-hero movie is the frenetic colourful style that runs through it. The look of the characters are also effective in creating identity and a cool mark of branding for the film. The Joker with his slick green hair and many tattoos is a special spin on the comic book baddie we all know, Harley will be everywhere by Halloween, what with her easily identifiable and mad get up. The characters, when grouped together light the film up in a way that rivals El Diablo’s power, especially when near the end they’re fighting in slow motion and showing just what they can do.

The intrigue is also sort of there, or at least director and writer David Ayer attempts to put some in amongst everything else but the kitchen sink that’s already walloping the screen. In a way the shady dealings and talks of official Amanda Waller are dealt right, you feel the political greyness of her world but at the same time it gets lost underneath the rest of this insane world. Everyone feels like a villain at some point as Ayer tries his damnedest to make us actually like the supposed bad guys, the whole witching hour of destruction is another case of flimsy story and loud noise syndrome to include CGI and a third act dilemma.

In a way I liked the psychotic nature of Harley Quinn, her clear knowing of her sex appeal and mad behaviour vamped up to the eleventh degree is all well and good and you can find it fun to a point but then it gets too much and her crazy becomes crazily tiresome, even a last ditched try to throw in some emotional loss her way feels too little too late. The main problem with all the characters is they feel very thin, the majority are written with some sob story backdrop that keeps coming back as if straining to have some heart in this feature.

Steven Price of the beautiful ‘Gravity’ music scores this in a way that feels less than his talent. I can’t even remember much of his work because it’s drowned out by a barrage of songs that feel like a broken jukebox shuffling through hits from The White Stripes to Eminem. The character’s introductions are so fast and backed by differing songs that they feel more like snippets from music videos. In general this is the issue with DC, they’re rushing through their universe and setting up so much that a huge portion gets forgotten and muddled. Glimpses of the Justice League people once again show up like that’s enough to warrant their own movie next year after only just having set up that whole ideal.

Margot Robbie is obviously having fun playing her part as the excitable and fearless baseball bat wielding Harley Quinn. She’s one of the stronger parts of the movie along with Jared Leto. He ensures The Joker is maniacal and unhinged but sadly he’s underused and doesn’t get to shine so much. Viola Davis is pretty good to, convincing as the shadowy government figure using these freaks as her own circus of tricks. Will Smith is alright, he’s bad-ass and gets delivered a larger chunk of the screenplay what with his asides, snips of jokey dialogue and daughter infused drama. Killer Croc, Katana and Slipknot are already dwindling in my memory with how little they do.

Without any hesitation, this is the best film to come out of the DC extended universe so far, it’s fast, humorous in places and quite different but it’s a disappointing movie striving to be edgy and all feeling rather hollow.

5.5/10