There is no escaping the movie trailer for Bad Moms, which opens today, if you are a mother.
While others will likely enjoy the movie, it’s us moms getting tagged in “OMG, we have to see this!” posts and fielding multiple invitations to MNOs (Moms Night Out for the uninitiated).
From the previews, the movie revels in (and no doubt hyperbolizes) the oft-bemoaned aspects of modern motherhood: getting out the door in the morning; balancing work and family; battling the Queen Bee PTA mom at school; and the overall quest of living up to “perfect mother” expectations.
Until a fed-up character stages an uprising. I presume this is when the fact that the movie is from the same writers as The Hangover truly materializes. According to IMDB, the movie is “Rated R for sexual material, full frontal nudity, language throughout, and drug and alcohol content.”
Sold. I already have my ticket to watch in a rented out theater with 75 other women from my neighborhood moms group.
Despite the jaw-dropping moments in the trailer, what really had me gasping was the casting. Mila Kunis is the lead protester, with Kristen Bell by her side. Christina Applegate plays the foil as the PTA president. All of these women are phenomenal actresses with a long history of diverse roles. For what it’s worth, they are also all mothers and I have especially enjoyed Kunis’s and Bell’s honest and hilarious insights into new parenthood.
But as I watched the trailer, all I could see were Jackie Burkhart (Kunis’s self-involved teenage alter ego from That ’70s Show), Veronica Mars (Bell’s titular character in the cult favorite show) and Kelly Bundy (really dating myself with Applegate’s ditzy 1990s character from Married With Children).
While each of these actresses have more than these roles to their credit, it still strikes me when a movie about mothers of school-aged kids is comprised of actresses who I once identified with as caricatures of my own youth and frivolity (no offense, Veronica Mars).
And this applies to father roles too. Don’t even get me started on Ethan Hawke (love you forever, Troy Dyer).
Hollywood and age, particularly as it pertains to women, is a complex and frustrating relationship. I’ll leave others to dissect that issue and review the movie.
My shock is personal. Kelly Bundy playing a mother of middle school children is a mirror of my own evolution as I, too, have stepped into the parent role, both literally in my family and figuratively in professional settings. And working at a university as I do puts the differences between youth and middle age in clear focus.
At a recent event, one of my students referred to me as the “mom” and to my younger colleague as the “fun aunt.” Of course I immediately feigned outrage for implying I was no longer fun, and of course the student ardently said, “No, no, you know what I mean!” And I do know. She meant I’m not that fun, but she still likes me because I nurture, support and ensure everything goes according to plan… kind of like a mother.
(For the record, my colleague does too, she just happens to also use Snapchat and stay out past 10 p.m.)
I’m staring down middle age which has always scared me, but admittedly I have enjoyed settling into the mom role. It feels right to be “fun enough.” I enjoy my students “explaining” things to me. What I thought would make me feel less connected to them — the widening age gap — actually brings us together and redefines our relationship in a special way. I hope it will be the same when my now-toddler twins are old enough to roll their eyes at me when I don’t know how to properly use the newest phrase (I still don’t know what “bae” means).
As I laugh in the sold-out theater watching Kunis, Applegate and the other actresses play this out in exaggerated form, I have a feeling my fellow mothers will be thinking the same thing: When did we become the “moms?” in the movie? And: My, what a great role to play.