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MOVIE REVIEW: 'Bad Moms'

Posted: 7:16 AM, Jul 29, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-29 13:16:12Z

Phil Villarreal's novel, Zeta Male, is available at Amazon.

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - With "Bad Moms," the Tiger Mom standard is officially out, replaced by the Wildcat Mom.

Rounding up an excellent cast, and a wicked script that harness the chaotic exuberance of "Bridesmaids," writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore raise a glass to a distinctive brand of feminism that "Ghostbusters" strove for but couldn't quite grasp. 

More than a ribald comedy with end-to-end laughs, "Bad Moms" is also a social statement. It's a whiplash reaction to the media and social customs-fueled pressure for mothers to be everything to everyone, convincing women to strive for an unattainable supermom standard.

Amy (Mila Kunis) reaches her snapping point after she finds herself newly single. She comes to an "Office Space"-style epiphany in which she re-evaluates all her routines and anxieties, determined to put herself first. Letting off steam at a watering hole, she finds kindred souls in happily single Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and repressed homemaker Kiki (Kristen Bell).

Together, the ladies form a pact to embrace their motherly inadequacies and indulge in pleasures long since repressed or outright denied. That entails late-night grocery store runs, including a wacky montage of destruction, spa days, wild house parties and a cannonball splash into the dating pool.

Amy's rage against the machine makes an enemy of PTA president and unforgiving queen bee Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), who vows to tear Amy down. 

The chemistry among the leads keeps things humming during the slower moments. Kunis is the star, getting most of the best lines, relishing the starring role she's rarely gotten a shot at, and Bell carves out some satisfying character work. But it's Hahn, ever a background player and never a Bridesmaid, who uses the film as her coming out party, tapping in to the Melissa McCarthy, scene-thieving exuberance she hinted at in bit parts of the past, such as her guest-starring turn in "Parks and Recreation." 

"Bad Moms" may be a little tainted in its purity of purpose by its male-centric perspective -- are these really latent mom fantasies playing out on screen, or just a dudes' idea of what they should be? -- but it's funny enough to overcome any such doubts because it's so good at being bad.

RATING: 3 stars out of 4