Monday, December 11, 2017

Joint Reviews: A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS and DADDY'S HOME 2: Parental Partnerships and Pratfalls

December 11, 2017

This December, there were two new comedy films released, both sequels of previous modest hits at the box office. "A Bad Moms Christmas" is a quick followup to "Bad Moms" (Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, 2016) (MY REVIEW). "Daddy's Home 2" is a sequel to "Daddy's Home" (Sean Anders, 2015), which I had not seen before. 

I have decided to review these two films together because they coincidentally had very similar themes. Both were set at Christmas time, and both had the parents of all the lead stars come and join in the comic mayhem. The Bad Moms had their respective moms come to visit, while the two Daddies had their respective dads come to visit. 

I think you can readily predict how the stories of both films will run before going to see them. The predictable endings of these two films were uncannily similar as well.


In Scott Moore and John Lucas' "A Bad Moms Christmas," Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) all get surprise visits from their moms for the holidays. 

Amy's mom Ruth (Christine Baransky) is a domineering perfectionist  who wanted to do all things her extravagant ways. Kiki's mom Sandy (Cheryl Hines) is so clingy and overzealous that she got her daughter's hairstyle and neighbor's house. Carla's mom Isis (Susan Sarandon) is a gambling rocker chick who never grew up, only seeking her daughter out when she needed money. 

Like the first film, simply having Mila Kunis there elevated the film to a better level. Her musings as Amy, wondering why moms should take the brunt of every year's Christmas celebrations, from the gifts to the decorations to the parties, made a lot of sense. For her part, Kristen Bell's sweet voice and innocent look gave the naughty things Kiki said more shock value. 

Because they wanted to free themselves from their moms' intrusive interference, they have more serious mother issues addressed. For a matriarchal country like ours though, it was tough to see Amy and Kiki tell their moms off as these scenes were not exactly in consonance with our local customs. 

Unlike her friends, Carla actually wanted her mother to stay with her, but Isis was such a rolling stone. Kathryn Hahn had most of the funniest scenes in the film. Because of her job as a waxer at a swanky spa, she had a lot of opportunity to crack the raunchiest of jokes. One of the funniest scenes in the film involved hunky stripper Ty Swindle (played by Justin Hartley) and his hilarious balls waxing session. 

As with comedies of this sort, the comic situations were highly exaggerated with mixed results. It does bring the stressful issues moms faced every holiday season out there on the table, all told very frankly. I am sure non-moms out there will also get the message so they would appreciate their moms more. As therapist Dr. Karl (Wanda Sykes) said, Moms become crazy because their child was born that threw their life up in a loop. Moms will definitely identify. 6/10.


In Sean Anders's "Daddy's Home 2," biological dad Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) and step-dad Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) have decided settle their differences from the first film to be friendly co-dads to their kids Dylan and Megan. 

Their relationship was going on well, until one Christmas when both their fathers come visit. Dusty's dad Kurt (Mel Gibson) is a macho, no-nonsense, chauvinistic ladies' man. Brad's father Don (John Lithgow) is a sweet, talkative, very gentle man.

Actually you can see the gist of the whole film in the very detailed trailer that practically had all the funniest parts already. Mark Wahlberg played the straight man Dusty to the idiotic shenanigans of Brad, which is right up Will Ferrell's typical slapstick style. 

It was actually stark contrast of the two dads that carried the show for me. Mel Gibson, with that constant smirk on his face, was just having fun playing it tough and romancing the moms. John Lithgow got to shine more because of Don's emotionally effusive character. An unexpected dramatic element in his subplot gave Lithgow's scenes further substance.

The wives Sara (Linda Cardellini) and Karen (Alessandra Ambrosio) were just window-dressing, and the kids Megan (Scarlett Estevez), Dylan (Owen Vaccaro) and stepsister Adrianna (Didi Costine) did not exactly have likable personalities. John Cena's belated and brief appearance as Adrianna's biological father had no effect at all. 

The PG comedy was very uneven. The humorous situations were either repetitive (too many snowballs and pratfalls) or overextended (that bowling scene or that creche scene). Several "funny" scenes were actually looked very dangerous than funny, like the outdoor lights disaster or that chainsaw disaster or that turkey hunting disaster. If you were in it for the father-son interactions, the issues between Dusty and Kurt did not resonate as much as that of Brad and Don, but this was also expected. Dads may not identify. 5/10. 

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