Rating: 3 out of 5
Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for a holiday romp that once again provides a few solid laughs. Alas, it's also just as unambitious, never pushing its characters very far or coming up with anything terribly original. But filmmakers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore know that sometimes audiences just want dumb entertainment.
In the week before Christmas, Amy (Mila Kunis) has reached breaking point with all of her motherly responsibilities. So she's delighted that her boyfriend (Jay Hernandez) and kids just want to have a mellow holiday. Then her hyper-demanding mother (Christine Baranski) arrives with enormous plans that Amy's meek dad (Peter Gallagher) quietly goes along with. So Amy turns to her best friends Kiki and Carla (Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn) for help. And they've also been invaded: Kiki's far-too-involved mother (Cheryl Hines) arrives for three weeks, while Carla's biker-chick mom (Susan Sarandon) is a gambling addict in need of cash. So Amy, Kiki and Carla team up to take back control of Christmas.
The idea is enjoyable, even if it's an easy target, from obnoxious crowds in the shopping mall to excessive home decorations. And the script never tries to do anything remotely original. The three grandmothers are merely exaggerated versions of the moms, which completely avoids finding something more interesting in their relationships. But it does give Sarandon, Hines and especially Baranski plenty of over-the-top comedy to expertly play with before the sentimentality comes flooding in at the end. Meanwhile, Kunis, Bell and especially Hahn are endearing and often very funny in their growing frustration. And Hahn gets the best scene when she sparks some romance with a sexy Santa stripper (This Is Us hunk Justin Hartley) who comes to her spa for an intimate wax.
The film's raucous humour is just rude enough to seem transgressive, even if it isn't. And there are plenty of set-pieces to keep us chuckling either due to the knowing observations, wildly ridiculous characters or witty gags improvised by this expert cast, which includes enjoyably silly cameos from the first film's Christina Applegate and Wanda Sykes. In other words, there isn't anything very memorable about this movie, and it never does anything we haven't seen before in a Christmas comedy. But these characters are fun to spend a couple of hours with. So we don't mind that Lucas and Moore seem to be creating their own movie universe, with other holiday antics planned for these moms plus, naturally, Bad Dads.
Facts and Figures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Cast & Crew
Producer: Suzanne Todd
Starring: Mila Kunis as Amy Mitchell, Kristen Bell as Kiki, Kathryn Hahn as Carla Dunkler, Susan Sarandon as Carla's mother, Christine Baranski as Amy's mother, Cheryl Hines as Kiki's mother, Jay Hernandez as Jessie Harkness, Peter Gallagher as Amy's Father, Justin Hartley as Ty Swindle, David Walton as Mike Mitchell, Wanda Sykes as Dr. Elizabeth Karl, Emjay Anthony as Dylan Mitchell, Oona Laurence as Jane Mitchell, Cade Mansfield Cooksey as Jaxon, Destiny Lopez as Church lady, Ariana Greenblatt as Lori, Lyle Brocato as Kent, David Dunston as Mall Shopper, Patrick R. Walker as Sexy Santa Host, Nikki Tomlinson as Bored Employee, Keith Hudson as Exiting Shopper, Terayle Hill as Sexy Staff Dude, Megan Chelf Fisher as Mall Shopper, Matthew Warzel as Sexy Santa Stripper #1, John Merical as Party Guest, Mary McCloud as Christine, Patti Schellhaas as Party Guest, Philip Pierce as Mall Santa, Matt Allmen as Elf, Tyson Love as Cashier, Jacks Dean as Bernard, Tegan Jones as Skyzone Kid, Karen B. Greer as Mall Shopper 2, Lucie Carroll as Party Guest (uncredited)