It’s a rare pleasure for me to go to an actual film meant for grownups. Most of the time I’m on the couch at home, dredging the bottom of kid Netflix with my children. To that end, we recently accidentally happened upon the direct-to-DVD Disney movie, ’Spooky Buddies.’
‘Spooky Buddies’ is a live-action film featuring a team of talking puppies who (oh, no, please, no) keep calling each other “dawg,” and are being chased on Halloween by a resurrected wizard and a demon hound, who is totally miscast by this super sweet, bored-looking English Mastiff. Spoiler alert, the sheriff gets turned into a monkey. The kid actors are many times better than the adult actors, but everyone looked embarrassed by the whole thing. Especially the monkey.
It’s still better than ‘A Bad Moms Christmas,’ released last month, and also better than the first in the series, “Bad Moms,” released in July, 2016. They are both beyond terrible, and I am grieving over the wasted potential. Incidentally, ‘Spooky Buddies’ also has lazily named sequels, like ‘Super Buddies’ and ‘Santa Buddies.’ Perhaps there’s an online title generator both these franchises used?
I’m bitter because I am the target market for these films, and on paper, this movie was made for and about me. Like the protagonists, I am a working mom in my 30’s, carrying all the pressure in the world, trying to be the perfect mom, while attempting to maintain my identity, health, hobbies and relationships. I also drink wine with my girlfriends…not in slow motion, in the mall food court, so much…but I’ve been known to get a little saucy at the CPK.
Despite all this, these movies left me dead inside. Why can’t I just drink contraband Chardonnay out of my Nalgene bottle and laugh with my girlfriends at the movies like I’m supposed to? I’ll tell you.
Going into the first film, in the innocent days of summer, 2016, I was really excited about it. It starred some of the funniest, strongest actors in the business, allegedly making jokes about the ridiculous expectations on women. Exactly my wheelhouse! Except that, while the actors worked hard, the material was uninventive, unoriginal, unrealistic, and, frankly, kind of anti-women. I was confounded by how bad it was. It absolutely killed my lady drinky buzz. None of the characters rang true to women that I know. They all made weird choices that lacked any self-awareness or authenticity.
The writers, Jon Lucas, and Scott Moore, from ‘The Hangover’ movies, made the characters do awful things that don’t make any sense. The main character, ‘Amy,’ is played by the fierce and funny, Mila Kunis (see her in ‘Black Swan,’ or “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” which is a WAY better movie, written by Jason Segal, and featuring a Dracula puppet show that will change your life) apologizes for her husband cheating on her. Through the course of the story, never really realizes what a load of horse shit that is.
Kristen Bell plays the bedraggled, naive and kind of dumb, ‘Kiki.’ She’s pushed around by almost everyone, and it’s hard to watch. To flatten K.Bell’s sparkle is a real feat, but, boom, there she goes. Watch her in ‘The Good Place,’ or also, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall,’ because SERIOUSLY, THAT MOVIE IS SO GREAT.
Kathryn Hahn, ‘Carla,’ can never not be funny, and thank God she’s not stuck playing sidekicks anymore, since she’s irresistibly smart and natural (watch her in anything she’s ever done, but also, “I Love Dick” on Amazon). In these movies, she had to work EXTRA hard to not be a lazy, slutty female stereotype. She mostly pulls it off.
I sat there during both films thinking, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, (and Christina Applegate in a smaller part in both films). Damn. Hysterical, brilliant, talented, and, I believe all mothers IRL, why couldn’t they have written this movie? Please let that retroactively happen.
My expectations were pretty low going in to the sequel, but I was out with a lady friend, and this is THE PERFECT MOVIE FOR LADIES, so I bit the bullet and we went. By ‘bit the bullet,’ I mean that I pre-gamed even better than the with the first movie. White wine was not going to cut it, so I got fancy with Spanish coffee and Tequila Sunrise. Damnit, I was going to giggle during this movie, or I was going to blow colorful chunks.
It seems that, ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ pulled out all the stops, too. And it, did, in fact, blew pretty colorful chunks.
With the first movie, it was as if the (all male) writers sat around and said, “Hmmm, what do women want in a movie? What do they want in life? Should we ask one? Nah, we got it.” And they came up with:
- -Women like to complain about themselves
- -Women like to complain about their kids
- -Women like to complain about their husbands, but eventually they’ll realize it’s all their own fault
- -Women like to compete with other women over trivial nonsense
- -Women like to decorate themselves and their homes
- -Women like to drink wine with their girlfriends
Then, the sequel, they were like, LET’S GO BIGGER!
- -Women still like to complain, but they REALLY like to do it with the F-word, so more fucks!
- -Women like to complain about their mothers
- -Women really, really like to decorate themselves and their homes, I mean, a lot
- -Women like to have complicated, mysterious relationships that no one can understand ever
- -Women like to sacrifice everything they have to their kids, because it means more complaining!
- -Women like cleavage and lady butts, because who doesn’t?
- -Women like penises really a lot
- -Women like men with penises, who also make eye contact with them
- -Women like the show, “This is Us”
- -OOOOOh! I have an idea!
“Well, shoot, that’s only about a 20 minute worth of movie, so, I guess, let’s add a bunch of montages and slow-mo footage to stretch it out to acceptable movie length and put the sexy dude, Justin Hartley, from “This is Us” in not much clothes. Ooh, yes! Penis! Make him seem like he likes to listen to women talk or whatever, too. Can’t you just hear the mom panties dropping? They’re heavier than regular panties and make a bigger thud.
Add some more raunchy jokes and a whole bunch more ‘fucks!’ ” Almost there! Then, I guess we made WAY more money than expected in the first movie, so let’s throw in some pricey lady comedy heroes, Wanda Sykes, Susa Sarandon, Christine Baranski (hey, girl), and Cheryl Hines, and as the Bad Moms’ moms caricatures…I mean characters (it’s fine, they’ll figure it out), and voila! Conflict! That’s a plot, thing, right?
Oh, and let’s drop in Peter Gallagher, because he’s pretty non-threatening with those eyebrows of destiny, but make sure you give him a big, fat monologue, where he explains everything and makes it all right, or what a waste of a great actor. Excellent! It has everything. Ladies will lose their lady minds over it!”
Sigh. Seriously. Is there a content to montage ratio that is required for a movie to be considered a movie instead of a music video? Shouldn’t it be, at least, >50% actual stuff happening instead of spliced cute-takes and slo-mo close-ups on the characters? And now they’re jumping on trampolines. Yep, and here we have them spanking each other…slooooowly? Is this real life? Between those montages, there are product placements, and the very rare genuine moment that makes the characters almost seem like real people who could exist and are worth the audience’s attention and sympathy, but not quite.
The Amy character, who, last film, had to realize she was wrong for her husband cheating on her, this film finds out that she is wrong for her cruel mom berating and manipulating her, and she just needs to show her more love and attention.
GEEZ, AMY. WHY CAN’T YOU DO ANYTHING RIGHT?
What. The. Fuck.
Oh, and then they paid Kenny G to show up for a split second, surrounded by white billowing sheets, because I think it’s in his contract?
My advice is, instead of being duped into watching yet another movie of female cliches walking away in slow motion, get together with your actual friends and drink wine and talk. Come up with a movie idea and WRITE IT DOWN, because there is a lady audience hungry to laugh at themselves on screen and this is (mostly) the shit we’re getting. See how real women actually relate to each other, and how hilarious and supportive you and your friends are. In regular time. Of course, you can always just watch “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” or “Spooky Buddies.”
Maybe I was too critical. Everything is relative.