The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Every mother has felt like she’s a total failure at some point in her life—probably at countless points in her life. The pressure to be all things to all people is overwhelming, as is the feeling of guilt that you’re constantly letting someone down: your kids, your significant other, your fellow moms, your boss, yourself.
“Bad Moms” nails that universal sensation—surprisingly, it was written by two men, directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore—but it balances its nuggets of truth with hilariously raunchy humor. The idea of friends liberating themselves through completely inappropriate behavior is something Lucas and Moore know a little something about: They wrote the first “The Hangover” movie and wrote and directed the 2013 college romp “21 & Over” (which I liked vaguely better than most critics). Here, they reveal a surprising knack for real-world insight while still giving us slo-mo party montages of women drunkenly raiding the grocery store, bouncing up and down while chugging from vodka bottles and making out with each other to thumping dance music.
It’s a tricky combination to pull off, and Lucas and Moore do run into some slightly awkward tonal shifts in the more dramatic scenes. But in the pantheon of “Bad” movies—“Bad Santa,” “Bad Teacher,” “Bad Grandpa”—this one’s actually pretty good. For the film to be about more than just wildly outrageous behavior (although those moments are the one that provoke the biggest and well-earned laughs), these have to feel like real people and we have to care about them too. And we do, thanks to a strong cast of comic actresses who have an easy chemistry with each other.
Mila Kunis stars as Amy, a wife and mother of two living in suburban Chicago. She’s a young mom who got pregnant at 20 and married her high school sweetheart (David Walton). (He’s a bit of a one-dimensional dolt; then again, so are most of the men in this movie, and maybe that’s the point). Now in her early 30s, she feels constantly harried as she juggles a part-time job and two kids (Oona Laurence and Emjay Anthony) without much help from her husband. Plus, she’s the one who does all the grocery shopping, makes the breakfasts and lunches and drives the kids to their various classes, practices and games, not to mention her PTA responsibilities. She jokes sardonically that the one thing she’s good at is being late all the time, but there’s an honesty in that statement that cuts to the core.