As lousy as last summer’s surprise hit “Bad Moms” was, it did summon up a few raunchy laughs, mostly thanks to the raucous comic skills of breakout star Kathryn Hahn. The quickly-made sequel, “A Bad Moms Christmas,” bottoms out completely — there’s a lot of noise, but not many jokes.
In the first film, three suburban mothers decided they’d had enough of today’s PC parenting world; bad behavior and R-rated language followed. Now, writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (they created the “Hangover” series) return with the Yuletide version of this story.
Aside from the seasonal setting, “A Bad Moms Christmas” has a workable gimmick: Our three heroines are visited by their insane mothers during the holidays.
For Amy (Mila Kunis), happily divorced now, this means a blitzkrieg from her over-controlling mom (Christine Baranski). An expensive house-decoration makeover and a lavish Christmas Eve party (complete with carols by Kenny G, playing live in the den) are part of the program.
Modest Kiki (Kristen Bell) gets a visit from her overly-clingy mom (Cheryl Hines, from “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), the kind of woman who has pajamas with Kiki’s face printed all over them. She announces her plans to move in next door.
Carla (Hahn), whose truckstop panache has only grown more colorful, gets an unexpected stopover from her rock ‘n’ roll mom (Susan Sarandon).
The movie half-heartedly re-creates some of the alcohol-fueled hijinks of the first film (nobody ever seems to suffer the consequences of booze, miraculously), but this installment is more about the three women standing up to their bossy mothers.
The only funny scene is also the most excruciating, as Carla, a stylist, executes a wax job on what used to be called the private parts of a male stripper (Justin Hartley, who gives probably the best performance ever by an actor playing a male stripper). How could romance not be in the air? Hahn and Hartley play the scene well, not that any of it can be quoted here as proof, including a good punch line involving the Dalai Lama.
When it isn’t arduously trying to titillate us, “A Bad Moms Christmas” rolls out a bunch of supposedly sincere homilies about how we should all accept each other, and have healthy boundaries, and not put our children’s faces on our pajamas.
Baranski and Hines deliver their parts like old pros, although Sarandon seems on auto-pilot. Not that you can blame her. This is a waxing we could’ve done without.
“A Bad Moms Christmas” (1 star)
Sequel to the crass 2016 hit, this time with the three bad-behaving moms (Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell) visited at Christmas by their mothers (Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, Cheryl Hines). Not many laughs in this raunchy outing, which might be even worse than the first one.
Rating: R, for language, subject matter
Opening Friday: Alderwood, Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Meridian, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Sundance Cinemas, Thornton Place Stadium, Woodinville, Cascade Mall