WTAF JUST HAPPENED? Somethinghappened after the release of Bad Moms in the Summer of 2016. A Bad Moms movement was unleashed. Something we couldn’t quite put our chipped finger nails on. The filmmakers felt confident that they had made a hilarious film, but were bowled over to see it go on to gross north of $180 million dollars worldwide. Gangs of moms of all generations hit the theatres to see Bad Moms and enjoy a night out on the town with their besties; free from responsibility and ready to party.
Whether your bottle of choice for these outings contained wine or nail polish, it was clear that there was safety in numbers. Moms needed other moms to get them through the day. The monotony of responsibilities of helming the home was tiresome and mamas everywhere needed to take a break and check out now and then. A camaraderie was forming among moms of all ages no matter what their situation, with Bad Moms as the catalyst for change. The film reverberated with moms around the globe and became a part of the zeitgeist, and a group of women banded together and a Bad Moms movement was unleashed.
What Bad Moms leading ladies Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell), and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) represented was freedom. Freedom to fuck up. Freedom to do the best you can and still fuck up. It was a relief to see the honesty of being a mom portrayed on the big screen with Bad Moms, and now A Bad Moms Christmas is here to bring that same real mom spirit to the holidays.
A Bad Moms Christmas, reunites the dynamic team of Bad Moms: Writers/Directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, and Producer Suzanne Todd.
Returning as the stars of A Bad Moms Christmas are the triple threat cast of Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn as Amy, Kiki and Carla. This time around, our bad moms receive a holiday visit from their own mothers, in roles portrayed by Cheryl Hines (Kiki’s mom), Christine Baranski (Amy’s mom), and Susan Sarandon (Carla’s mom).
Also starring are returning cast members Jay Hernandez, Oona Laurence, Emjay Anthony and Wanda Sykes, alongside newcomers Peter Gallagher and Justin Hartley, who join these two generations of moms in the chaos of the holiday season.
Also returning members of the Bad Moms creative team: Director of Photography Mitchell Amundsen, Production Designer Marcia Hinds, Editor James Thomas, Costume Designer Julia Caston, and Composer Christopher Lennertz.
A Bad Moms Christmas follows our three underappreciated and overburdened moms as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas. As if creating a more perfect holiday for their families wasn’t hard enough, the moms have to juggle creating Christmas cheer while simultaneously hosting and entertaining their own mothers. By the end of the journey, Amy, Carla & Kiki will redefine how to make the holidays special for all and discover a closer relationship with their mothers.
KEEP CALM AND JINGLE ON Writer/Directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and Producer Suzanne Todd sensed audiences wanted more of this titillating trifecta of women after the release of Bad Moms. Of diving into the sequel, Moore says “In the first movie the idea is ‘I love being a mom but sometimes its too much and it drives me crazy’. When we started looking at what to do with the sequel and started talking about Christmas, that felt very similar. It’s like you don’t hate Christmas, everybody likes Christmas, but sometimes it just gets to be too much.”
Says Lucas, “Once we came across the Christmas idea, it was too big to ignore. Any time you have family together that you don’t see very often, or that you don’t want to see, and there’s too much money and too much booze… it’s all combustible and fodder for comedy.”
The Lucas and Moore filmmaker duo have written their share of other Christmas movies such as Office Christmas Party and Four Christmases. Explaining their love—and semi-hate—relationship with Christmas, Lucas says, “We love it, we adore it, we love that time of year – at the same time we hate it, we are overwhelmed. This film is a new look at Christmas and everything moms endure for their families during the holidays.”
Says Todd, “This idea, which I have certainly bought into as a mom, and assuming other people have too, is that it is sort of never enough. Not the right lunch for your kid, or in this case not the right Christmas present. This attitude is really not helping us, and not helping our children.”
Adds Todd, “Like the first movie, the idea of A Bad Moms Christmas is to tear down some of these personal, societal, and cultural norms of both torturing ourselves for not being good enough moms and allowing other people to put us in a place of self doubt about how we mother our children. We want to express that it’s okay to be yourself and not worry about the noise of Christmas cards, and dinner, and all the rest of it. At the end of the day, it’s about enjoying the holidays more and stressing less. ”
GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER So what about Christmas could audiences all relate to and laugh at as well? What really pushes someone’s buttons at holiday time? There is one answer and one answer only. Your mom.
Says Moore, “We knew we would have a fun lively movie again with the fantastic combo of Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn, but we also wanted to have a subject that we felt interesting, and that is when we upped the ante by adding the mom’s moms in this movie.”
Todd was pleased with the writers’ direction, “This films opens up a lot of new territory of dealing with the holidays, and how these grown up mother/daughter relationships evolve.”
Adds Lucas, “The idea of Christmas is a classic example of something that is really fun but for some reason through society or whatever, we are told not to enjoy it. If you cut all that away it is really a wonderful time of year - your family is around and everyone is giving each other presents, but somehow we have sucked the joy out of it by making it so stressful.” Moore picks up where his partner left off, “Also, in the mother daughter relationship if you get caught in ‘she did this’ or ‘she was telling me to do that,’ you could pick apart that relationship all day or you can just enjoy it a little more.”
WHEN I THINK ABOUT YOU I TOUCH MY ELF A year later we find our original Bad Moms Amy, Kiki, and Carla in the throws of the Christmas season.
Mila Kunis once again plays the lovable and vivacious Amy, doing her best to keep it together at the holidays with the normal chaos of decorating, baking, tree trimming, buying and wrapping presents. Further complicating things, this Christmas she and her new(ish) boyfriend Jessie (Jay Hernandez) are blending their families, and Amy is determined to make the holidays a hit at any cost.
Says Kunis, “I think it took a minute for the men to go it’s okay for them to see the movie. And when they did, they got it. Moms need to decompress. Moms are still women. Women who need to have a life outside of being a mom for their own sanity.”
Kathryn Hahn returns as Carla, a single working mom whose nail art matches her mood. She is ready for a good time at a moment’s notice…just make her a proposition. You never know what is going to come out of her mouth. Says Kathryn Hahn, “Bad Moms struck a chord with a huge audience that was waiting to have a cathartic release watching a bunch of moms let loose on camera. In this film, you add to that the most complicated of all love stories which is between a mother and daughter.”
Kristen Bell returns as Kiki. Four small children are enough to drive any mom crazy, and Kiki is no exception. Kiki is doing her best to find a balance between her child-rearing and spending “special” time with her husband. Says Bell, “Audiences can all relate to motherhood in some way. You either know a mom, are a mom, or have a mom. It’s a universal theme and the stress of motherhood particularly in this day and age is a lot.”
THREE FRENCH HENS On why their threesome has resonated with audiences worldwide Hahn states,“ I had never met Mila or Kristen before Bad Moms. The only way I can describe it is that it is effortless. We each bring something to the band.”
Bell continues on why the relationship works, “Kathryn, Mila and I are friends in real life, and we feel very safe with each other and are willing to try anything on screen.”
Mila Kunis agrees, “We all find ourselves talking about our kids. We share stories on set of what we did with our kids, comparing notes, and that’s always a bonding moment.”
Todd beams when she talks about her leading ladies, “I think we lucked out with the magic between the three of them. They’re all moms of little kids; they’re all young moms themselves, and they love each other. I think that came through onscreen, how truly supportive they are and how genuine their friendship is.”
Kunis relates, “These movies have so much empathy towards the women in the world, whether you are a working mom, a stay at home mom, or a struggling mom that has it all. These movies allow you to realize you are not alone.”
Hahn concludes, “Christmas is such a perfect time of the year for this movie to happen as so many women are out there making magic.”
IT’S BEGINNING TO
LOOK A LOT LIKE COCKTAILS The filmmakers talked a lot with Mila, Kristen, and Kathryn about casting their moms because they wanted their moms to share the same prototypes of each of their own personalities.
Kristen Bell enjoyed the process, “By introducing our mothers you see why we are who we are. And I think your parents can push your buttons because they installed your buttons.”
Says Suzanne Todd, “Amy’s mom is very overbearing, Kiki’s mom has no boundaries, and Carla’s mom is pretty much the explanation for the way she is. We talked directly to our leading ladies about what actresses they thought may be a good fit to be their mom on this A Bad Moms Christmas journey.”
The filmmakers intentionally wanted moms from different generations, and mother-daughter relationships that had different age gaps. This gave the filmmakers an opportunity to choose from the best actresses in Hollywood. Todd couldn’t be happier and claims they hit the casting lottery, “The nice thing for us is we had so many great actresses that wanted to be involved with A Bad Moms Christmas, as they had seen Bad Moms and loved the message - stress less and enjoy motherhood more. When we started talking about who would actually play the roles, it was even more exciting because there are so many actresses in that age group and category and we felt like we had a wealth to pick from.”
GOLD, FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH
(OR, THE THREE WISE WOMEN) Christine Baranski plays Amy’s mom, Ruth, a stickler and perfectionist who loves Christmastime and considers the holidays a competitive sport. Like everything else she does, she tackles the yuletide spirit with 100% enthusiasm, conviction, and intensity. Ruth’s overbearing ways often overshadow her softer qualities, but at the core she loves and is proud of Amy. Ruth and her husband Hank, played by Peter Gallagher, have come from Palm Beach to be in Chicago with their daughter and grandkids for Christmas.
Says Todd, “If what you saw in the first movie is that Amy is a perfectionist, then Ruth is a super perfectionist. You’ll see the origins of how that began, and how you grow into that role, and how the torture of that is a learned behavior.”
Says Baranski, “There is nothing more real than a family in terms of relationships, and there is no richer terrain for comedy than with mothers and daughters.”
About Mila Kunis, Baranski says “Mila is just the most easygoing young actress I have ever met. I mean she’s unflappable.”
The admiration is mutual as Mila says of Baranski, “I have yet to find a weakness in her. That woman is an animal. She’s killer on the trampoline, and an incredible actress and more physically fit than any one of us. She’s just so game for it all. I really admire her.”
Cheryl Hines plays Sandy, Kiki’s mom. Says Todd, “Kiki and her mom are a different story. Kiki’s mom has lost her husband and since she became widowed has not really found her way. Sandy focuses all her love and adoration on Kiki, but hasn’t been able to maintain healthy boundaries in doing that. She’s clingy and overbearing. Kiki and her mother are at a crossroads in their lives when they have to endure a new conflict together to find new ground.”
“Sandy can be a tad smothering,“ says Hines. “But she and Kiki are cut from the same cloth, as they are very sweet, well-intentioned people. So it’s hard for Kiki to tell her mom to stop her behavior.”
About Kristen Bell, Hines says, “Kristen is very intuitive. She has great comedic timing and doesn’t break no matter how funny things get on set, and she always comes from a truthful place.”
Kristen Bell loved being reunited with Hines, “I’ve known Cheryl for over ten years, and to be paired with her made me so excited as she is a super funny, outgoing lady. Sandy and Kiki are much closer in age than the other moms, as Sandy had Kiki when she was eighteen. Sandy can’t loosen her grip on Kiki, so Kiki finally has to put her foot down and say that she needs space.”
Susan Sarandon plays Isis, Carla’s mom. Isis is a carefree stoner spirit like her daughter…and then some. Passing a joint or sharing high heeled boots, whatever the circumstance... the apple bong doesn’t fall far from the tree with this mother-daughter pair.
Kathryn Hahn and a little help from email brought Susan on board. The filmmakers and Hahn both really wanted Sarandon to play Isis but weren’t sure she was available. Says Sarandon, “Kathryn Hahn actually wrote me a letter that came with the offer and I’m a big fan of hers… I think she’s enormously talented, big-hearted and brave as hell.”
Kathryn wrote her an email stating, “My ovaries really need you in this movie. I feel it.” Jon Lucas says, “And Susan wrote an email back saying, ‘Who am I to argue with your ovaries?’ Which is the greatest acceptance letter of all time.”
Says Todd, “With Carla you get to see what her mother was like and understand what kind of environment she grew up in and why she makes the choices she makes. In the first film we see Carla really evolve by the end of the movie, and turn into a better mom. In this film you see the exploration of that as Carla changes, so does the relationship with her mom.”
On Susan Sarandon playing her mother, or acting more like her sister in the film, Kathryn Hahn had to stop in her tracks often and pinch herself that it was really happening. “I cannot believe I am in the same frame with Louise as in Thelma and Louise or from Bull Durham, or Dead Man Walking. Susan is just so game and hilarious and just jumped into this madness with both feet. She is delicious.”
“My character certainly doesn’t suffer with trying to be perfect. She would be the one Antichrist in this narrative… It was hard because I think she has to be really unaware otherwise she’s just despicable, so how do you make someone really unaware without making them an idiot? I think because she wasn’t raised herself, she just has no clue and she had Carla very young. They kind of grew up together. She doesn’t judge other people. She has adjusted to the problems of her life and to the fact that she has so little and such little stability. It is just that she’s decided to be happy about it.”
Says Lucas, “Its been really fun getting new blood in this film. I’ve never worked with Cheryl, Christine, or Susan before, but between all of them their experience with R-rated comedies has made it fun and unpredictable.”
ROUND YOUNG VIRGIN, MOTHER AND CHILD (WHO ARE WE KIDDING?) As Facebook says ‘it’s complicated,’ and Todd agrees, “Your relationship with your mother is always evolving. In the film this is a moment when Amy and her mom have to take a look at their relationship and decide how it is going to change based on the conflict. And it is so fitting that all our moms cast, and all our mom’s moms cast, have daughters themselves in their real lives.”
Says Moore, “There is no way your child is going to parent the same way you did, so there is friction. When your child parents differently than the way you did, you can’t help but feel judged.”
Continues Moore, “As a parent, whether you are a mom or a dad, there is this point when your kids become adults and you go from having a parent/child relationship to being peers, and we found that dynamic really interesting.”
The moms’ moms had palpable chemistry from day one on set. Says Hines, “The three moms’ moms characters shared the realization that we have to figure out our own lives, that we can’t just hope our daughters are going to put up with our shit, though it would be more fun for us if they did.”
Inquiring minds want to know if Lucas and Moore ever based their Bad Moms characters on their own real life family members. Says Lucas, “We’ve seen certain patterns in other family relationships that we stole from, but the mom’s moms are a pretty eclectic bunch, so I would never want to say they resemble anyone in our family. These are more things we have observed.”
Says Moore, “We have heard that a lot of people were shocked that Bad Moms was written by two men, we like to think that ‘yes, we wrote it,’ but a lot of it came from listening to our wives. We were less creating it than being documentary filmmakers.” Lucas laughs, “And that’s as close as we are ever going to get to documentary filmmaking.”
LORDS A LEAPING Returning for A Bad Moms Christmas is Amy’s boyfriend Jessie, played by Jay Hernandez. Jessie and Amy are further along in their relationship and spending Christmas as a blended family. Jessie however isn’t prepared for Amy’s mom’s antics as the most wonderful time of the year escalates to chaos.
Hernandez had many moments on the set when the dialogue would ring true. “I kept looking over my shoulder wondering how did Jon and Scott know that my own mother has said that same thing to me?” Continues Hernandez, “Real life mothers put their genetic imprint on their daughters. You can’t avoid it, whether you like it or not.”
Hernandez gives credit to the all the moms out there who are raising their kids. “They have a lot on their plate, and sometimes they just have to cut loose like in the first film and now in A Bad Moms Christmas. It was a good reminder to everybody, including myself.”
FELIZ NAVI-DADS Peter Gallagher joins the cast as Hank, Amy’s father and Ruth’s husband. Gallagher and Christine Baranski are old friends, as they starred together over thirty years ago in the Broadway hit The Real Thing, and many years later when Gallagher had a role on “The Good Wife.”
“Ruth has control issues,” says Gallagher. “She wears the pants in the family and sometimes she lets Hank wear the pants, but mostly he is wearing shorts.” Adds Gallagher, “It’s great to be a dad in A Bad Moms Christmas because sometimes you have to stand in the background and just watch. Jay Hernandez and I are perfectly happy to take a back seat to this extraordinarily funny female cast. For every mother or daughter who feels like their experience hasn’t been recognized, this is your movie. You’ll be howling.”
NORTH POLE DANCER As fireman-moonlighting-as-seasonal-exotic-dancer Ty Swindell, Justin Hartley (‘This Is Us’) confesses shaking his moneymaker doesn’t come naturally. “People are afraid of heights or public speaking, I’m afraid of dancing. Taking on this role was fun and so different for me as ‘This Is Us’ is on the serious side.”
When the writers were asked if the idea was autobiographical Lucas said, “Well Scott and I have done a lot of Sexy Santa competitions. We’ve never middled or even placed, we’re usually dead last.”
Baranski was a bit smitten with Justin, “He is so yummy and gifted. He obviously does a skilled sexy dance, but what really impressed me was how sweet he was.”
Hines blushes, “Justin was really great. He was the only one dancing, and the only one taking his clothes off while everyone watches. But he was really good at what he did. No complaints here.”
Even Todd who has worked with Hollywood’s most talented and handsome men gets tongue tied, “Justin Hartley is in this movie? Really? Is Justin Hartley naked in this movie? Oh wait, I think Justin Hartley is naked in this movie.”
Hartley was honored and so excited to get the call to be involved with this film. “I just love the concept of this female led comedy about women and how mothers are so busy they literally don’t have any time to take care of themselves, and instead do everything for their kids and spouses. They are the center of the universe, and deserve every bit of recognition they get.”
…..THINGS ARE GLISTENING Hartley’s first day of work on the set of A Bad Moms Christmas found him in hot wax (literally) opposite cosmetician Carla, played by Kathryn Hahn.
Says Hartley, “There are days when you show up to work and you have to take your clothes off. I will probably never get the opportunity to do something this crazy again. Kathryn was so much fun to ad lib with. At one point they had to cool off the cameras because we were running and riffing too long.”
Says Hahn, “Justin showed up on the set where everyone already has a short hand from the first movie and he just stole it. We really had a ball.” Kathyrn likes puns.
WE WISH YOU A MERRY KID-MAS Actors Emjay Anthony and Oona Laurence return as Amy’s kids Dylan and Jane in A Bad Moms Christmas.
Though Emjay and Oona themselves are too young to see the R-rated comedy, they had a great time on the set joining in on the humor with the crazy talented cast of moms and mom’s moms.
Says Emjay, “I watch what the cast does. They keep adding funny things, and sometimes dirty things to each take. It’s hilarious every day.” Adds Laurence, “I’m intimidated to be among all these stars. It’s really cool. They are having the best time, and it feels like a dream.”
Also returning to the franchise is Cade Cooksey as Jaxon, Carla’s son, and says his movie mom is the opposite of his real life mom. “Carla is so unpredictable. It’s hilarious but not very stable. It’s hard to not laugh during takes.”
Ariana Greenblatt (Disney Channel’s “Stuck In the Middle”) joins the cast as Lori, daughter to Jessie. She enjoys hanging out with Oona and Emjay, “We have dinner together all the time, and it’s like they are my real brother and sister.”
EAT, DRINK, AND GO TO THERAPY Wanda Sykes returns to the world of Bad Moms again as the impatient therapist Dr. Karl. This time in her chair seeking counseling is Kiki and her mother Sandy, as Dr. Karl tries to navigate and solve their all too familiar dysfunctional relationship with her own untraditional methods.
Says Sykes, “Your mom is the closest person to you. But at the same time you always hurt the one who’s closest to you.” Dr. Karl is a unique therapist in her approach. Dr. Karl tells it like it is. Says Sykes, “Dr. Karl is gonna tell you what’s wrong with you, and then send you on your way. I don’t even know how she stays in business. She thinks Kiki and Sandy are bat shit crazy.”
Sykes is clear on what it takes for moms to survive Christmas, “Lots of alcohol. Spike the egg nog.”