Bad Moms

By: Kevin Jordan Molli Jordan

We interrupt this programming to bring you a special message.

bad_moms poster

Over the past couple of years, women’s equality has been a major topic of discussion, especially in the entertainment industry.  Equal pay and lack of female leads have been two prominent issues in the film industry.  Then there’s GamerGate in the video game industry.  (If you haven’t heard of GamerGate, I’m not even sure you should go look it up.  I’ve read a bunch of stuff and I still don’t fully understand it.  It’s a combination of misogynistic assholes, corrupt game journalists, and extremist feminists all accusing each other of being terrible people…I think.)  Most recently, we’ve had to put up with the asinine narrative surrounding the Ghostbusters remake, in which Sony and many media outlets accused anyone not liking the film of being sexist because a handful of actual sexists started trolling the film when it was announced that the Ghostbusters would all have vaginas.  I have no idea why the sexists had to be such raging dicks about Ghostbusters (other than because they actually are raging dicks) because the women spend a good portion of the movie waving phalluses around.  I also don’t know why pro-women’s movement people would defend Ghostbusters for the same reason – giving a woman a fake dick doesn’t make them equal to men (also, it’s an atrocious movie).  Luckily, after two years of people getting all wound up over the wrong things, we finally have an example in film that actually is pro-women without pandering, lying, or making them drive giant penis-shaped trucks (sorry Furiosa) – Bad Moms.

The genius of Bad Moms is that it isn’t just a movie to empower women, though it primarily is that.  If you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t understand deadbeat dads or men that refuse to change diapers, this movie is for you as well…but in a whole different way.

[Jostling at the computer…wife cuts in.]

Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Does anyone else see the irony in a man reviewing a movie, and talking about how it empowers women?

I read and edit all of the Number-9 movie reviews, and he tends to ramble.  Let’s just get to the point.

He’s not wrong.  Bad Moms is a great pro-woman, pro-mom movie.  It offers a wonderful peek into how moms often get the short end of the stick.  And I don’t mean from men, and I don’t even mean the dirty-diaper-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-clean-barf-off-my-shirt end of the stick.  I mean the pressure to simply do a good job.  Books tell you that you suck (“don’t drink caffeine while you’re pregnant, or your baby might have eleven toes”).  Articles tell you that you suck (“14 alternatives to watching TV this summer”).  Pinterest tells you that you suck (“77 bento box lunches that don’t include sandwiches”).  And other moms might not tell you to your face that you suck, but they’re sure as hell thinking it.  Being a mom can often feel like you’re doomed to fail, even when you’re doing the best you can.

Don't be these moms.

Don’t be these moms.

Bad Moms walks right up to those books and articles and people…and flicks them all in the nipple.

Or we do this.

Or we do this.

Bad Moms is realistically empowering.  This is key.  Empowering a female character does NOT mean dropping her into an established male role, handing her a penis-like weapon so she can shoot stuff, while her impossibly stupid, male secretary cowers in the corner.  Empowering a female character is building up her power IN THE SPACE SHE ALREADY OCCUPIES.  Ghostbusting is not relatable.  Tearing down entitled, insensitive men is funny the first couple of times (I will admit), but still does not drive home the point.  ….But a female character showing up at a 3-hour PTA meeting about food allergens in the bake sale on a Friday night with food spilled on her blazer, resulting in a mental breakdown and a wine binge….now THAT’s relatable.

Catharsis.

Catharsis.

Not to mention, Bad Moms is funny.  Fuuuuuuunny.  If you don’t laugh during this movie, then you’re probably the author of those condescending Pinterest articles.

I drank Diet Cherry Pepsi while pregnant.  My kid watched non-stop Paw Patrol all weekend.  And his lunches this week included cheese sticks and Fig Newtons.  ….I’m often just doing the best I can.  And my family is going to be juuuuust fine.  Including my husband, who (thank the Lord) is NOT a nincompoop.

Rating – Two enthusiastic tits up.  Because I actually put on a bra today.

Vacation

By: Kevin Jordan

Not your grandfather’s Vacation.

VACTN_1sht_Main_DOM

If you like reading reviews, you’re going to read a lot of them saying how bad or depressing the new Vacation is.  Don’t believe them for a moment.  They are the stodgy old people who hate the designated hitter, think Matlock will never be topped, and don’t understand what all the fuss is about Twitter.  These people will reminisce about “the good ol’ days” and tell you how nothing could possibly be as good as a movie written by John Hughes starring Chevy Chase.  Well, they’re wrong.  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the original Vacation, but the only thing I can remember about it is Clark Griswold (Chase) forcing John Candy at gun point to let his family into Walley World.  And, I’ve seen it more than once so it couldn’t have been that great if I can barely remember it.  And if you think that’s just me being forgetful, I remember everything from Caddyshack and it’s three years older than the first Vacation.  In other words, this new Vacation is just as good as the original and stodgy critics hate fun.

(Note: The new Vacation is notably missing the National Lampoon moniker, so I will refer to the original as NLV for the rest of review, partly because the stodgers hate anything that looks like texting speech.)

The first argument that everyone has already had about Vacation is whether it’s a sequel or a remake.  The answer is that it’s both – it’s a requel (thanks to a commenter for that one).  Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) – Clark’s son – is all grown up, with a family of us his own and wants to take his family on a road trip to Walley World.  See what they did there?  If you want to know what gags they retread, well…I already told you I barely remember NLV, so unless Rusty takes a hostage in order to gain admission to Walley World, all of the jokes will be new to me (SPOILER – he doesn’t).

To be fair to those stodgers, I had my reservations going in.  I believe my exact words were “(Sigh) I guess I’ll check it out (Sigh).”  However, during the trailer, there’s a scene in which Rusty’s two sons are sitting at the kitchen table and the older son, James (Skyler Gisondo), says to a girl “are you enjoying school?”  The younger son, Kevin (Steele Stebbins) repeats the line in a mocking voice, then says “that’s what you sound like.  Shut up!”  It made me laugh during the trailer and it gave me just enough hope that I stayed cautiously optimistic.  Much to my delight, not only did I laugh just as much at the “shut up” joke during the film, but I found myself (and the audience) laughing throughout the entire movie.

It’s rare that a comedy can keep up the laughs for the duration of the film.  Most of them fizzle out after the second act because they sacrifice the comedy to bring the plot to a semi-serious close.  Think about every romantic comedy you’ve ever seen and try to think of any jokes during the last half hour of the film.  Even some straight comedies think their stories need to have some gravity and end up delivering sappy, bullshit endings for stories that weren’t very good to begin with.  Vacation toes the line – the entire vacation is Rusty’s attempt at bringing his family closer and rekindling the flame with his wife – but it never forgets that the reason people paid to see it is for the jokes.  And jokes there are a plenty.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil any of the jokes (the trailer does that plenty enough).  Like I said, that’s why you’re there.  For me, the jokes all seemed fresh (a quick look at the wiki page for NLV revealed that they did indeed retread some) and only a couple of them made me cringe.  There’s an especially awkward minute early on involving Rusty competing with his neighbor’s show of affection towards his child.  It reminded me of the competing maid of honor speeches in Bridesmaids – the joke goes on for far too long and is never funny at any point.  But aside from that, Helms was funny, Christina Applegate (Rusty’s wife) was funnier, and the two kids were downright hilarious.  And if that’s not enough for you, Chris Hemsworth plays a small role and delivers the best gag (a sight gag you can’t unsee) of the entire film.

Yes, NLV was funny in its day and still makes us laugh, but thirty years have gone by and comedy evolves just like any other genre.  Vacation is a great entry in the series and anyone who says otherwise has probably yelled at more than one person to get off their lawn.

Rating: Don’t ask for any money back and try not to hurt yourself laughing.