Last year’s Bad Moms spoke to a generation of mums, defiant of the unspoken notion that the fun stops at motherhood, while its sequel – released just 15 months later – shines a light on the pressure most mums feel during the holidays.
Both written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who launched the Hangover franchise, not only did the original (US) R-rated film feature three thirty-something actresses, but it broke all industry predictions by raking in US$183 million at the box office.
“This is a money-driven industry and as long as the numbers add up, there will be more female-driven comedies,” argues Bad Mom Mila Kunis, pointing to a future where female comedies – of all ages – are the norm and not the exception.
Take for example Bad Moms 2, in which our three heroines must deal with the unwelcome seasonal arrival of their judgemental mothers, portrayed by Susan Sarandon, 71, Christine Baranski, 65, and Cheryl Hines, 52. Kunis’s character has it worst when her screen mother descends in the shape of Baranski, a perfectionist whose Christmas comes with rigid rules.
Ironically, Kunis can not begin to identify. “I’m Jewish, born in communist Russia,” she tells STACK, recalling how she emigrated from Ukraine with her parents when she was seven years old.
“When they saw how Christmas in America was this magical red and green holiday, they immediately went out and bought a plastic singing Christmas tree with a moving mouth and blinking eyes. They still have it.”
“This is a money-driven industry and as long as the numbers add up, there will be more female-driven comedies”
Kunis has since made up for lost time. “When I married my husband, I started having Christmas in Iowa, so now I have real white Christmas. But at home in Los Angeles, I love any excuse for cheesy decorations. We’re not classy, we have tons of pre-lit Martha Stewart garland and an outdoor projector that lights up the outside of the house with snowflakes,” says the actress who has a three-year-old daughter, Wyatt, and ten-month-old son, Dimitri, with hubby Ashton Kutcher.
Limiting her kids to just one Christmas gift each, she says, “I didn’t realise how much crap your kid gets, until I had my own. My first Christmas as a mother, I realised this: Grandparents give kids too much sh-t. My kids don’t need Toys’r’Us delivered to our house, they just don’t. And it’s not what the holidays are about, which is also what Bad Moms 2 demonstrates; the unnecessary consumption that happens during the holiday season.”
Her fellow Bad Mom, Kristen Bell – who has two daughters with husband Dax Shepard – is an unabashed sucker for Christmas, “We have a lot of matching sweaters and matching pyjamas,” she admits. “Our house looks like a giant arts and crafts dumpster. We make our own decorations every year. I give the kids construction paper and crayons and whatever they come up with, I just tape it on the walls. Its very decorative – which is really the only thing we care about because we’ll spend the whole day decorating or just playing and forget to make dinner. We’re not very regimented.”
Bell’s best advice to parents who stress out too much over the holidays?
“Like everyone else, I feel pressure to be perfect on a daily basis, and sometimes you’re doing great and other times you’re not. There’s been moments where I have dropped my kids off at school, truthfully, wearing two different Birkenstocks because I got ready too fast or I’ve not worn a bra,” she says.
“But I chose to find comedy in that and not shame myself. Guilt is not for me. I have it, but I don’t get along with it. I think that guilt and shaming yourself is wasted energy. I just hope this movie can allow women in this situation to go: life is funny. We’re all just trying.”
And as with the first Bad Moms, Kathryn Hahn’s character knows how to have the best time – and she doesn’t disappoint in round two, where she enjoys a very special Christmas package. Just saying.
Bad Moms 2 is in cinemas on November 2.