The Unkindest Cut
I have a foreskin. If you’re a female reader and disgusted by that, I’m sorry to inform you (and sorry that you found out via a humble review website where it’s likely you did not expect this kind of correction), that you’re sexually retarded and guilty of gross, indefensible hypocrisy – namely holding men to a socially constructed and wholly unnatural beauty standard.
Why are we talking about this? Because Bad Moms, an alleged comedy about showing a cleft to modern middle class mothering expectations, and the guilt that flows from being something less than an idealised thing, has a punishing three minute riff on the horror of men who, either unburdened by religious abuse, or unpersuaded by porn, have not been the victims of male genital mutilation. It’s supposed to be a frank and hilarious moment – women talking freely about male genitalia, cutting loose, sticking it to the man, daring to be crude, libidinous and selective, but this scene, like others in Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s film, fails to imagine how women might achieve this social emancipation without recourse to inverted masculine idiocy. Is being misandrist funny? Because – you know, it’s a flip, innit. If you swap stereotypes, what have you achieved really, other than suggesting there’s just one template for this kind of puerile, lewd shit, and that you have no idea what a feminist version would look like?
Men are stupid in Bad Moms – useless, infantile, mostly invisible – bar Mila Kunis’s love interest and winner of the genetic lottery, Jay Hernandez (assuming he no inherited predisposition to serious illness), who wins our hearts and sympathy by being both a widower and single Dad. In other words, he assumes the role that would normally be played by a woman in this kind of cookie cutter fantasy. From the moment Kunis catches her husband having an internet wanking session with a web-mistress, the movie telegraphs its intent, namely to unite Kunis and Hernandez to form an enlightened duo that respect one another and understand their own shortcomings as parents. Super, you say, but did we really need to go through the indignity of that foreskin riff and watch a woman urinate in the street, amongst other horrors, to get there? Am I really supposed to feel good at the end of a movie that’s consistently soiled my brain?
So Bad Moms is just a variant on The Hangover, Horrible Bosses, and the like, with one grounded character flanked by a kook and a fuck up. The movie, such as it is, wastes a lot of time establishing its titular premise – three put-upon maternaloids decide to go wild – then does next to nothing with it. Only sometime in the second act do we get a sense of the conflict that might have driven the movie, had all concerned had the wit to write a few more drafts…and add wit.
The belated battle between Kunis and her nemesis, PTA president Christina Applegate, culminating in the decision to run against her, could and should have been the heart of the film. There, surely, was a chance to both satirise the piousness and apple pie values of American politics, while contrasting those tyrannical expectations with domestic reality. It could have been an Election for parents, but although said idea’s buried in the screenplay, it never surfaces long enough to make an impact. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to retract my healthy, and if I don’t say so myself, rather attractive foreskin. Suck on that.
It pains me to think of all the moms that saw this movie and have had their baby circumcised for no good reason.
You’re spot on with your comments about male genital mutilation and the despicable way how this movie portrays men. At first I was laughing during that scene, but then I suddenly stopped, because I realized that I didn’t know why I was laughing at someone wanting men to mutilate their genitals just because she found it aesthetically pleasing and saying something akin to “they should know it by now”. I wonder how far a couple of men in a similar comedy joking about not wanting to have sex with uncircumcised women (i.e. women with clitorises) would have flown, before the people in the audience started to stand up and leave – not very. It’s like this movie was sponsored by a Guild of Rabbi’s or something. Also, there is something intrinsically mean with all these female “comedies” where women have to make themselves feel better at the expense of men. This is something that you absolutely do not see when the genders are flipped in comedies like “Hangover”. The main characters husband just surfs online, sleeps during the day, masturbates, and complains about not getting a blowjob in the last 5 years of marriage from his wife, while she does literally everything. Really? Why not make him also into a wife-beater and a rapist and be done with it? I’m sure there are few belly laughs they could milk out of that. Half way into the movie the jokes just stop, and while I was waiting for the final laugh-out-loud-till-you-weep moment the main character just gives a speech, everybody applauds her, and then the movie ends. I’ve seen real bad movies in my life, but I have never felt more embarrased walking out of the cinema before this one. Avoid like plague.