Pube-obsessed Bad Moms Christmas leaves little to celebrate

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      Starring Mila Kunis. Rated 14A

      For a movie that pretends to be against excess—three exasperated moms are going to “take Christmas back”, dammit—this sequel really doesn’t know when to stop.

      Sailing on the surprise success of their 2016 hit Bad Moms, The Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore are back and ready to get more crassly over-the-top with Bad Moms Christmas. So instead of just being happy with their three central characters—Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Kathryn Hahn—getting wasted at a food court, the writers have them then dry-hump the mall Santa and steal a gigantic, sneaker-adorned Christmas tree from Foot Locker. Kunis’s wealthy mother (Christine Baranski, doing her haughty shtick) doesn’t just take over redecorating her daughter’s house in a silver-and-blue scheme, but hires a gospel choir for door-to-door carolling and a live camel for a cocktail party. And Hahn’s aesthetician, Carla, doesn’t just wax the pubic region of a well-endowed male stripper but explicitly maps her way back to the poop chute. (Cue one of the most cringe-inducing pickup scenes in the history of film.)

      The problem is that so much about Lucas and Moore’s script feels fake here: start with an unlikely family outing that amounts to an extended ad for a trampoline-park chain, then go on to the little kids saying “oh my fucking god”, penis-shaped cookies suddenly appearing at a church gingerbread-house-making class, and the fact that most of these women don’t appear to have worked a day in their lives.

      This might all be fine if the guys writing this had taken a page out of the equally offensive but blackly comic Bad Santa and didn’t insist on going for the treacle at the end.

      At least Hahn, Susan Sarandon as her waste-case grifter mother, and Cheryl Hines as Bell’s creepily clingy mom do amusing work despite the script.

      But Lucas and Moore’s ideas of what women feel like they have to live up to seem rooted somewhere back with June Cleaver. And if the pube-happy, male-stripper-gawking, eff-bomb-dropping antics these women rebel with are what She Power is supposed to look like these days, then getting hammered at the mall food court suddenly doesn’t look so bad.