Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) is trying her best to be a good mom. She’s working, caring for two kids, making lunches and dinners, helping with school projects, driving to soccer practices, and participating in a PTA run by a trio of the worst offenders in Mommy Culture. You’ve seen these moms; hell, you probably know at least one. Played to snippy perfection by Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Annie Mumolo, they’re the wealthy, well-kept Perfect Moms who talk shit on the “less perfect.” They’re the women who look at a working mom pityingly and say things like, “You’re SO strong to be able to just leave your kids and go to work. I don’t know how you do it. Don’t you miss them?” But they also look down on stay-at-home moms for looking less than perfect. They’re the moms who run school bake sales and militantly demand homemade, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, BPA-free, artificial-color-free, joy-free baked goods so no special little snowflakes are harmed in the making of said bake sale. (Look, I don’t want your kids to explode, either, but ain’t nobody got time for that.)
Amy’s husband is useless and ri-goddamn-diculous, and hardly helps with anything, despite his less-demanding job. I don’t know any real-life men like him, which is good, because I’d hate to have to go around punching men in the dick.
It should come as no surprise that being stuck in this life construct from ages 20 to 32 might push a girl to her breaking point — to make her think, “You know what? FUCK THIS,” and just…do less. Stress less. Acknowledge that there’s no such thing as a Perfect Mom, and take some time to unclench. So that’s what Amy sets out to do.
She befriends two fellow odd moms out: Kiki (Kristen Bell), a stay-at-home mom with another ineffective husband; and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) a bawdy and fucking fabulous single mom. By the end of the movie I was a little in love with her. She may be my spirit animal. And Kristen Bell is delightful as always, though maybe not the best representation of a stay-at-home mom — Kiki is a disheveled, shut-in weirdo at first, which seems like a harsh stereotype. But I loved the evolution of her character throughout the movie; toward the end, she got a round of applause from the audience in my theater.
As I mentioned, not the best male representation. I hate to generalize, but though the movie is funny, it’s obviously made for women (but by men, oddly — same guys who wrote The Hangover). So gentlemen, I’m sorry, but this movie is not kind to your people. There are only a few male characters, all pretty useless, and with very little redemption, so much so that I noticed. Amy’s son is an entitled little suburban douchebag; there’s a soccer coach who’s bitch-whipped by the head Mean Girl Mom; the two useless, dimwitted husbands; and a hot single dad. (Hot Single Dad takes his shirt off, by the way, and…I mean…it didn’t hurt to look at him, but his only purpose in the movie seemed to be being pretty and sweet. [*cough*WelcomeToOurWorld*cough*])
The movie’s trailer is actually a bit misleading – the women aren’t constantly drunk and irresponsible. They’re just blowing off a little steam on occasion, bonding over simultaneous love and hatred for their children (c’mon, you know your kids are total assholes sometimes), and commiserating about the overextended existence they find themselves entrenched in. They learn a lot from each other, and rally together hardcore when one of the Mean Moms starts messing with Amy’s daughter — you don’t fuck with a mama bear, people. Even my barren womb knows to reco’nize.
Beautiful life lessons in sisterhood aside, I still laughed so hard and so unexpectedly that I MAY have accidentally spit a little. (Thankfully no one was in the seat in front of me.)
Ladies, gather your tribe this weekend and go see this movie. Preferably with a juice box of wine and an irresponsibly-overbuttered bucket of popcorn.