First off, this film was HILARIOUS! 🙂 The gorgeous Mila Kunis plays Amy, a stressed out mom living in an affluent suburb who tries to please everyone. She works for a start-up coffee company where she is the oldest hard-working employee and her younger coworkers are just goofing off. She runs to PTA meetings. She also does her two kids’ homework, makes their lunches, drops them off at school and makes dinner. She is juggling so many things but never has time to herself. Even when her husband doesn’t value her or his kids, she takes his crap because she feels that’s what her duty is: to be the perfect mom.
She also has to deal with a clique of snooty PTA moms (played by Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo) who run the meetings. When I first saw Annie Mumolo in this film, I thought, Wait, where do I know this lady from? And then I remembered she played an uptight mom in The Boss. 🙂
The movie has a lot of great social commentary about society’s expectations for mothers and generally how people perceive women to be the multitaskers and the ones to do everything. In my senior year of high school, I saw a documentary called Race to Nowhere, which talks about how kids today are stressed more than ever because of standardized tests and expectations for them to beef up their college resumes and essays with extracurriculars and other things. But Bad Moms shows how this school-related stress can have a toll on parents just as much as it does on their kids.
There’s also a really great book called How To Get Sh*t Done by Erin Falconer that would be a great tie-in to this film. In the book Erin talks about her own experiences with trying to please her partner, parents, friends and coworkers by taking on extracurriculars, lots of projects, and tasks at home. She says that women are not making enough time for themselves because society tells them they should be caretakers and that if you make any time for yourself, you’re not doing your job. She gives really good tips for time management and explains that the art of saying “no” is hard but important in helping women prioritize their time. In Bad Moms, Amy and the other moms feel like “bad moms” because they don’t always please their kids and partners. However, Amy eventually wakes up and realizes that unless she takes charge of her own time and learn to say “no” to being over-committed, other people will keep demanding her time and she will keep going through the vicious cycle of guilt, shame, resentment and passive-aggressiveness that comes with saying “yes” to everything.
She also comes to understand that she pampered her kids by doing everything for them and they grew up with a lack of appreciation for everything she did. One of the film’s best scenes is when she tells her son to start doing his homework by himself. When he gets upset with her and tells her he is a “slow learner” she tells him straight-up that he is not a slow-learner. Instead, she tells him, he grew up with a sense of entitlement and that if he keeps expecting her to do everything for him, he will carry that entitlement mentality with him as an adult and it won’t be good. There are a lot of kids whose parents can’t always be there for them. There’s a lot of kids whose parents die or divorce when they are young, so these kids have to learn how to take care of themselves. In a lot of families, kids have to hold down a job or two in high school so they can support their parents, and at the end of the day they still have school work to do, so they don’t have time to complain like Amy’s son did. This film in retrospect really taught me how to appreciate my parents more because they worked so hard to get me through school and encouraged me to study hard. I never had to have a job in high school but if I have kids, I want to encourage them after seeing this movie to make their own bed, laundry and meals, get a part-time job and, yes, to do their own homework. Whether or not they carry those habits with them to college is not for me to decide, but at least they would have learned independence early on.
In a way, the film raises an implied discussion on class and classism without explicitly talking about it. Gwendolyn, who chairs the PTA board, forbids the moms from making any treat with sugar or other refined ingredients. Amy goes out and buys donut holes for the bake sale anyway. However, it should be noted that her main reason for not baking treats was mainly because she didn’t want to. Food insecurity is still a reality in many places in this country, and moms living on low incomes can’t always afford to buy expensive ingredients and make treats for their kids’ bake sale. Amy also chooses to not go to her firm’s meeting because she is done with the people who work there. Many moms work jobs where they can’t just afford to take off whenever they feel like it. While I understand it’s supposed to be a funny film, it also raised some interesting questions about the correlation between class, privilege and self-care. Not all moms can afford to eat out, go to spas, or go drinking with friends.
Overall, the film was lots of fun, rich with thoughtful themes, and very touching too. Shout out to all the moms out there; thank you for being you! 🙂
Bad Moms. 1 hr 41 m. Rated R for sexual material, full-frontal nudity, language throughout, and drug and alcohol content.