Ladies’ night

How two sober Sallys enjoyed a B movie with the aid of a bunch of tipsy gals

A friend of mine recently got out of a toxic relationship and she desperately needed to laugh, so we went to the movies to see A Bad Moms Christmas. It’s a follow-up to the 2016 film Bad Moms, starring Mila Kunis of That ‘70s Show fame, along with Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) and the hilarious Kathryn Hahn, an actress who’s done a bunch of stuff but I’m mostly familiar with from her role in an early- to mid-aughts TV show called Crossing Jordan.

I don’t go the movies all that often—typically I head there for films I feel can be fully appreciated only when seen on the big screen (the Star Wars sequels, for instance and, say, anything by director Wes Anderson, the genius behind The Royal Tenenbaums). But Sometimes you just need something you’re pretty sure will make you forget your troubles. And though I’d never seen Bad Moms, the trailers for its sequel looked funny—albeit entertainment of the low-brow variety.

My friend and I (let’s call her Sammie) went to Cinemark 14 more than a week after the movie opened. It was a Thursday evening, so we expected a lighter crowd, and the theater ended up being about a third full. What was unsurprising, but something I’d never experienced before, was the makeup of the audience—nearly all women. Right before the lights went down, two men came in—accompanied by women. Other than that, it was pretty much ladies’ night at Tinseltown.

Moments later, I heard the unmistakable sound of champagne corks popping and beer tabs opening, followed by a cacophony of cackling. Clearly, Sammie and I weren’t doing things right. We had ordered a couple of drinks (iced tea and soda) and a big popcorn, but the only thing we sneaked in was leftover Halloween candy. Our mistake.

I’m a little serious about movie-watching etiquette—I like to go to the theater to forget everything else in the world, to get sucked into the story. The last time I was at Tinseltown, I was there to see Alien Covenant. A few minutes into it, after a couple one row behind me kept jabbering on and distracting me and others during the film’s complex set-up, I had no problem turning around to ask them to shut the hell up while also telling them how incredibly rude they were being. I may have been a little curt.

But, with seeing something like Bad Moms Christmas, where there was no need to concentrate to keep up with a plot, combined with the fact that half the theater obviously was going to be tanked by movie’s end, it was clear from the start that audience engagement was a big part of the draw. I mean, we’re talking about a movie with stripping Santas and raunchy, cliché montages set in a shopping mall.

On Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, critics give Bad Moms Christmas a 29 percent. However, the movie’s audience favorability rating comes in at 52 percent. My guess is that slim majority is composed of women who, like what I witnessed locally, gathered with friends and imbibed liberally—a method of catharsis I can’t argue doesn’t have its merits.

As for stone-cold-sober Sammie and me, I guess you could say we enjoyed the movie vicariously through the others in the audience. Somehow the chit-chatting, sustained laughter and shouting are what made the film worth watching. And to that, I say, Cheers.