Movie Review: “Bad Moms”

Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay Hernandez, David Walton
Jon Lucas & Scott Moore

From mall Santas, to school teachers, to spelling bee contestants, Hollywood has a penchant for bringing out the worst in people we don’t normally associate with bad behavior. But while the premise behind “Bad Moms” is certainly ripe for comedy, as is usually the case with these films, it’s not lewd enough to justify its title. “Bad Moms” is an R-rated raunch-com that’s surprisingly short on both raunch and comedy. In fact, apart from its countless F-bombs (because apparently, nothing says “bad” quite like grown women cursing), it’s really a PG-13 movie at heart, failing to push the boundaries as far as you’d expect from the guys who wrote “The Hangover.” The film sorely lacks the insight that a female voice would offer.

Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) is sick and tired of trying to be the perfect mom. When she’s not being overworked at her part-time job, she’s busy maintaining her household and driving her two kids (Oona Laurence and Emjay Anthony) back and forth between school and their various extracurricular activities. Her slacker husband (David Walton) is practically a child himself, and after Amy catches him cheating with another woman over the internet, she promptly kicks him out of the house. The next day, everything that can go wrong does, causing Amy to finally crack under the pressure during a late-night PTA meeting. In the aftermath of her meltdown, she befriends two fellow mothers who share her frustration – bawdy single mom Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and docile stay-at-home mom Kiki (Kristen Bell) – and together, they agree to be bad moms for once and have a little fun. But when Amy’s antics make an enemy of uptight PTA overlord Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate), she decides to challenge her presidency and alter the status quo.

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Movie Review: “The Boss”

Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Ella Anderson, Peter Dinklage, Kathy Bates, Tyler Labine, Kristen Schaal
Ben Falcone

“The Boss” is pitifully lacking in self-awareness. It’s a film that wants to live in Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s universe, where there are real-life news anchor gang wars that end in people losing limbs. To be fair, it’s easy to see why they thought the audience might view the films the same way. “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights” both feature pompous shells of a human being who are humbled on a grand scale, much like Melissa McCarthy’s character here, but that is where the similarities end. What “The Boss” gets wrong is the meanness factor. Will Ferrell’s characters in the aforementioned films are dim and shallow, but harmless, while McCarthy’s character is an unrepentant, hostile sociopath from birth. Worse, the film treats this as a virtue.

Michelle Darnelle (McCarthy) is, by the audience’s viewpoint, a thrice-abandoned orphan who grows up to become a ruthless, filthy-rich business executive. Renault (Peter Dinklage), a former lover-turned rival, gets her indicted on insider trading, whereupon she is sent to prison and loses everything. Upon her release, she arrives at the door of her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) because she has nowhere else to go. Claire resents the way Michelle treated her, but because she’s a decent human being, Claire allows Michelle to stay, and as Michelle ingratiates herself in Claire’s life, she sees a business opportunity when she attends a Daffodils meeting with Claire’s daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson), and they discuss cookie sales. Shortly afterward, Michelle tastes one of Claire’s family recipe brownies. Darnelle’s Darlings is born, the brownies are their cash cow, and Michelle is back in the game.

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Movie Review: “Frozen”

Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad
Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

The ending of “Frozen” flies in the face of everything that Disney heroines had previously stood for, and it is glorious. Curiously, my 4-year-old daughter did not like the ending, because it does not fall in line with the other Disney princess story lines, though that is precisely why her mother and I high-fived each other when discussing it afterwards. Princess Anna is all girl, but she has more courage and determination than the other princesses combined. Between her and Merida from last year’s “Brave,” it is encouraging to see Disney crafting women who are focused on something other than the affections of a boy.

In the Norwegian village of Arendelle, there are two young princesses named Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel as an adult) and Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell as an adult). Elsa has the ability to make snow and ice, and Anna loves to see her magic. Elsa accidentally hurts Anna while putting on a show for her, and though they were able to heal Anna (and remove Anna’s memory of the accident), Elsa was forbidden from telling Anna the truth about her powers, which basically meant that Anna couldn’t play with Elsa anymore. As they grew older, they grew apart. On the day of Elsa’s coronation to become queen of Arendelle, her inability to control her powers sends the entire village into a deep freeze. Elsa, now regarded by the villagers as a monster, retreats for the mountains, and Anna enlists an ice salesman named Kristoff (Jonathan Goff) to help her find Elsa and bring her home.

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Kristen Bell returns tonight on ‘House of Lies’

You can catch the beautiful Kristen Bell on Showtime tonight as “House of Lies” returns for a second season. Kristen plays Jeannie Van Der Hooven, a management consultant working for the intense Marty kaan (Don Cheadle). She’s ambitious and will do what it takes to succeed, even sleeping with the old guy running the company, and she has some relationship issues. She’s also pretty damn sexy dancing in her underwear as you can in the clip below.

We have some photos of Kristen from the series above, along with some sexy shots of her from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Couples Retreat.” Finally, we have a great shot of her from her shoot with our friends with Maxim.


The Light from the TV Shows: 12 Shows to Look Forward to in 2012

Just as 2011 is sure to end in a few days, 2012 is equally likely to follow on its heels, which means that the January TCA tour is right around the corner. As such, yours truly is about to be bombarded with the best and worst that the midseason has to offer…and, fortunately, there’s a lot more of the former than the latter. Indeed, there are a couple of shows that the broadcast networks have been unjustly sitting on for almost six months, even though they’re a damned sight better than most of the dreck we got back in September. (Stand up, please, “The Playboy Club.” Or, you know, pick the program of your choice. That one’s just easiest ’cause it was the first to go.) Much as last week found me offering up 11 shows, give or take, that I was sorry to bid adieu to in 2011, this week I’ve pulled together a list of 12 shows that I’m looking forward to checking out in 2012. Keep in mind, however, that I’m basing my excitement either on a rough cut of a pilot or, in some cases, merely on the hopefulness I get when I read about the show. Yes, this does often come back to bite me in the ass, but such is the life of a TV critic. If I’m wrong, I’ll roll with the punches. In the meantime, though, these are my personal picks for what’s looking good in the new year…

The Firm (NBC)

So sayeth the network: Based on the best-selling novel by world-renowned author John Grisham, “The Firm” is a new drama series that continues the story of attorney Mitchell McDeere (Josh Lucas), who, as a young associate 10 years earlier, had brought down the prestigious Memphis law firm of Bendini, Lambert & Locke, which had been operating as a front for the Chicago mob. After a difficult decade, which included a stay in the Federal Witness Protection Program, McDeere and his family now emerge from isolation to reclaim their lives and their future — only to find that past dangers are still lurking and new threats are everywhere. Abby McDeere (Molly Parker), Mitch’s supportive, smart and resourceful wife, who had helped her husband expose Bendini, Lambert & Locke, is excited to start a new life in Washington, D.C., as a school teacher and mom to their daughter, Claire (Natasha Calis). Ray McDeere (Callum Keith Rennie) is Mitch’s charming, yet volatile, older brother whose work as an investigator in Mitch’s office is uniquely informed by his past stretch in prison for manslaughter. Despite a gritty past that stands in stark contrast to that of his Harvard-grad brother, Ray shares one key quality with Mitch – a loyalty that is unbreakable. Tammy Hemphill (Juliette Lewis) is Mitch’s feisty, sexy receptionist whose work life is made all the more tumultuous by her on-again, off-again relationship with Ray. With a personality as arresting as her ever-changing hair color, Tammy is leery when Mitch accepts a deal to partner with a top law practice, as she’s not cut out for the conservative culture of a white-shoe firm.

My take: I literally only just got the pilot episode this morning, so I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but the combination of Lucas, Parker, and Lewis has me very intrigued, and the fact that Grisham himself is part of the mix makes me hopeful about the possibilities of where this series could go if it’s given the chance. That’s a big “if,” though, because this isn’t the first time a Grisham novel has made the jump to the small screen. Anyone remember “The Client,” with JoBeth Williams and John Heard? It’s become so obscure that there’s neither a Wikipedia page for it nor even a clip from it on YouTube. Let’s hope “The Firm” gets a better go of it than that.

(Premiere date: January 8, 9 PM; regular 10 PM timeslot begins January 12)

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