“A Bad Moms Christmas”

Susan Granger’s review of “A Bad Moms Christmas” (STX Films)

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This shoddy, superfluous sequel begins with newly divorced Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) sitting on her stairs on Christmas Eve, viewing the wreckage that is her home, wondering what went wrong – as a camel wanders by.

“This year I ruined Christmas,” she wails. “I literally feel like the worst mom in the world.”

Flashback a few weeks, as Amy and her friends – chipper Kiki (Kristen Bell) and crass Carla (Kathryn Hahn) – were contemplating the chaos of the upcoming holiday season, feeling overworked and underappreciated.

Their angst is amplified when their respective ‘bad’ moms unexpectedly show up.  Amy’s mom is domineering, demanding Ruth (Christine Baranski). Kiki’s mom is sugary-sweet, yet suffocating Sandy (Cheryl Hines). And Carla’s mom is Isis (Susan Sarandon), a pot-smoking, hedonistic gambler who has dropped by to borrow money.

While the original “Bad Moms” (2016) delivered some disarmingly raunchy guffaws, this superficial exploration of complicated mother/daughter dynamics disappoints. Written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, it’s neither insightful nor amusing.

Indeed, it’s embarrassingly vulgar, particularly when blowsy beautician Carla rhapsodizes about waxing the private parts of a male stripper (Justin Hartley) who’s tired of women craving him for his bodacious bod, only to discover that Isis is ready to rock ‘n’ roll with this sexy Santa who happens to be her daughter’s date.

To be fair, there’s a slyly comical scene in which Kiki and Sandy consult a therapist (Wanda Sykes) about establishing ‘boundaries,’ and Ruth’s mind-boggling, Yuletide extravagance, involving live partridges and the Chicago youth choir.

While skilled comediennes like Kathryn Hahn and Christine Baranski make the best of the stressed-out situation, it’s a shame they’re given such sloppy material to work with. There’s no sisterhood, none of the disarming female bonding that characterized their previous comedy.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “A Bad Moms Christmas” is a frazzled 4, like trashy tinsel.

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