My Unsolicited Bad Moms Review

I’m way overdue for a photo update of all the visitors we’ve had, and school wrapping up, and how we are laying down our pride and bringing in someone to live with us to help us around the house because I just can’t hack it doing all the day-to-day stuff + paying any attention to my kids all by myself anymore.  Lots of stuff going on!

But I’m going to take a blog timeout and instead post about the first grown up movie I’ve ever seen in another country, Bad Moms.  I rallied my friend Suzanne to come along, who hails from Liverpool, and we snuck out last night (on a school night, gasp!) for what I hoped would be lots of laughs and the chance to commiserate on this hard-ass job that is motherhood.  It was especially fitting that last night we had to crack down on Max for some behavioral stuff, and he got to eat dinner in his room and go straight to bed at 6:30.  I needed to feel like I wasn’t alone in the trenches.

But I didn’t expect the experience I got.  I’m not sure if I should first explain how disconnected I felt from the characters in the movie, or how disconnected I felt from the other viewers around me in the theater, but I guess I’ll start with how the movie opened….which is supermodel-figured Mila Kunis running a thousand mom duties in four inch heels and a pantsuit.  Yes, she got coffee spilled all over her, had an awful day, and was supposed to appear frazzled & overworked….but she wrapped up the day by placing a perfectly roasted chicken dinner on a real dining room table with actual plates, with chilled white wine and not a hair out of place.
I’m really over movies that portray a dad who works an average job, and a mom who works about two days, if at all…living in a giant colonial in the Chicagoan suburbs.  Dressed to the nines, a mid-range minivan and perhaps a sports car for fun.  That doesn’t happen with the jobs they held, not without a trust fund, or illegal levels of debt…things they never account for in these films.  I can’t even scrub my toilets once a month, and her house is staged for a Better Homes & Gardens photoshoot at all times.  Nary a dirty dish on the counter, this mom who claims to work out once a week looks better on her worst day than I did on my wedding day.
Again, I know that was the point.  To exaggerate the impossibility of it all, but really, it was an immediate setup for me to not relate to anything that happened thereafter.  PLEASE, MILA.  Like I said, the very least you could have done is put on just a few more pounds to lend yourself some credibility.  Or like, don’t flatiron your hair every day.  You wouldn’t have time for that unless you had a fulltime maid or nanny.  Probably both.  They were trying to show her as one of the people…but where are these people?  I don’t know any.

My favorite little clip was when newly-single Mila Kunis is wanting a night out to meet some new guys…and they pull an old, slutty black dress out of her closet for her to rock.  Only in Hollywood do you still perfectly fit a dress that you wore before childbirth widened your hips four sizes.  Then again, this film was written and directed by men, so…we’ll let them dream a little.

This is sounding super harsh, and I’m sorry to all of the readers who loved this movie.  There are many of you, and I get it!  I actually did laugh a lot, and probably would have had an entirely different experience if I had been watching this in the midst of an American crowd, who are all used to these stereotypes of suburban families.
My situation was unique, because in my quick glance around and over my shoulder, I could see that the audience I was surrounded by was predominantly Asian, with a sprinkling of British or Australian moms enjoying a night out.
You know how when there’s a movie out you really want to see, and you beg one or two people to join you…but then the film is a giant dud and you spend the whole time squirming in your seat in embarrassment, hoping your friends aren’t judging you as a person for this movie you dragged them to? (incidentally, I hate this feeling more than anything in life, which is why I started going to movies alone about 8 years ago, and still enjoy it to this day)
I felt like that in regard to the entire crowd I was in.  Please don’t judge America based on this movie.  I swear to you we are not all like this…it was hard to shake that feeling enough to enjoy the film for the lighthearted, albeit raunchy, flick that it is.

There were a couple of humorous “lost in translation” moments though.  This one scene [spoiler alert] where Christina Applegate hosted a big mom-party to take away attendees from Kunis’ party on the same evening…Christina made reference to the “secret weapon” she had at her party – culminating in Martha Stewart appearing on screen, having catered and decorated the entire soiree.  It was funny, and I laughed out loud…and realized I was the only one laughing out loud.  I looked around me at the blank gazes at the screen, as my friend Suzanne leans over and whispers, “You know who that is, then?”

There was a joke about moms in a fistfight in the Trader Joe’s parking lot…which totally fell upon deaf ears.

There was a scene where the stressed-out 12 year old daughter was lamenting about how hard it is to get into Ivy League schools nowadays, and said, “They’re even turning away asians now!”  I mean, the joke was okay, but the theater I was in erupted into riotous laughter,  which really got me laughing.

On a more serious note, it’s really strange to watch a movie incorporate jokes and scenes about gays & lesbians (which is so common now in the US that we barely notice anymore), knowing that this is showing in a country where homosexuality is still technically illegal.  I don’t have any more thoughts on that, except that it felt strange, wondering where Singaporean society falls on this issue.

Then there’s the total disparity between American & Asian education ethic.  Kunis’ final speech to the giant group of PTA women was a moving oration about how we all do too much, and push our kids to unattainable goals, socially but especially academically.  How we need to teach them not just how to be good students, but how to be good people.  Sure, it was a fine speech, and I agree that me & my close mom friends are constantly trying to stand up under self-imposed or external pressure that we should be doing more and more with and for our kids, and the only possible place to give up time to do that is from our own well of self-care.  I think it’s a great message that we could do far less than we do (somehow), and our kids can still grow into functioning adults who know we love them.
But I’m living in the heart of a society where it is, tragically, not an uncommon occurrence for kids to jump from tall buildings because they can no longer take the stress of academic pressure that is so common in Asian families.  The cutthroat expectation to excel and get ahead in school is the norm here, without any need or desire to change it….so watching the primary message of the movie be that we need to “do less” really seemed to paint America in a “Lazy AF” light.  It was embarassing.

The film closed on four suburban housewives leaving their kids with the husbands and stepping onto the villainous PTA-president-now-turned-bff’s private jet for a women’s trip away from the stress of their privileged lives.
The credits rolled, and I turned in horror to Suzanne and asked, “Is this really how the rest of the world sees the United States?!”
Her shrug was really all the answer I needed.

The movie was fine.  Probably even considered hilarious by everyone else in the world except me.
But I had a blindfold pulled from my eyes last night, and that’s all I can really think about now.  I think I’ll just stick to Netflix for awhile, and maybe rebinge the simpler times of Stranger Things.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sue Wendt says:

    Thanks for the review and international perspective. I don’t plan on seeing this movie, had made that decision when I first saw previews, but your views cemented my decision. More and more in the past few years, as I watch movies, I consider how what is portrayed “plays” across the world. I can easily see that what we dismiss as creative license, humor, and exaggeration can be misinterpreted by others to be an accurate portrayal of our values. As for the “wrinkle-free” portrayal of the young mother in stilettos, I can so relate (even in my advanced age). I see other women and wonder, “How do you always look so pulled together, even when you’re wearing khakis and a t-shirt?” The worst was my daughter’s orientation at St. Norbert College, which pulls most of its students from Chicago and Northern Illinois. This was twenty years ago, and even back then, I felt “undone” simply by their flawless hair, make up, manicures, and clothes that never wrinkled, even in the 90 degree weather. My head told me that I was probably better educated than 80-90 per cent of the mothers there, but my insecurities kept focusing on those outward looks. Hollywood takes a nugget of what exists and builds upon it. Sorry, I went on my tangent. Really enjoy hearing about your challenges and experiences. By the way, take the help with the family and apartment without a shred of guilt.

    Like

  2. Lynn Zacharias says:

    Yup I made it….thanks Kara……

    Like

  3. Elizabeth jones says:

    I agree …I didn’t like that movie. Everyone told me how funny and good it was but not real for sure

    Like

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