Tag Archives: Kristen Bell

Moms Gone Wild

‘Bad Moms’ is a raunchy yarn about mothers who’ve had enough

Bad Moms
Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn & Christina Applegate
Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Rated R

“I feel like the worst mom in the world,” says Amy (Mila Kunis), the harried, hurried, overworked, underappreciated mother of two young teens. “Still, I love being a mom.”

That conflicted yin and yang of motherhood, so familiar to anyone who’s been there (or is there), is the comedic core of this raunchy, righteously rollicking yarn about a trio of suburban moms who decide they’ve had enough—of PTA Nazis, wussie husbands, doofus booses and just about everything else—and cut loose.

Writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who contributed to the screenplays of The Hangover—about three guys on a Las Vegas party-pa-looza—and its two sequels, seem to want to show that they’re equal-opportunity humorists: They can write crude, R-rated sex jokes for women, too, even soccer moms!

The strong cast seems up for the task. Kunis is just the right shade of frazzled as Amy, whose world falls apart quickly after she catches her loutish husband (Dave Walton, who plays Sam on TV’s New Girl) in a compromising position with his internet girlfriend.

Kristen Bell is social outcast Kiki, struggling to raise three young children with her chauvinist mate and fantasizing about getting into a car crash where she can go to the hospital for some quality “me time.”

BAD MOMS

Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn raise a toast to ‘Bad Moms.’

But the real comedy catalyst is Kathryn Hahn, a veteran of dozens of TV and movie roles, as Carla, the trio’s sole single mom—and she’s a pistol, a brash, been-around-the-block sexual dynamo who gets most of the movie’s laugh-out-loud lines and visual gags, particularly the hilariously vulgar ones. You’ll have a hard time looking the same way again at any sweatshirt hoodie after Carla uses the pink one Kiki is wearing to demonstrate a particular point about male anatomy.

“I’m not going to wear this sweatshirt ever again,” a stunned Kiki vows.

Christina Applegate digs deep into the delicious dirty tricks of her role as Gwendolyn, the head of the school PTA, who rules everything—particularly bake sales—with an iron fist. Jada Pinkett Smith is Stacy, her feisty first lieutenant. Jay Hernandez is the school’s “hot” widower dad (who really knows how to speed-buckle a car seat). Wendell Pierce (who played Det. “Bunk” Moreland on TV’s The Wire) gets in a great line in his short scene as the principal. Wanda Sykes plays a marriage counselor who finally gets an un-coupled couple she can’t re-couple. And there’s a very special cameo by a very special hostess.

Amy (left) faces off at a PTA bake sale with her nemesis Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her lackey (Jada Pinkett Smith).

Amy (left) faces off at a bake sale with nemesis Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her lackey (Jada Pinkett Smith).

“It’s OK to be a bad mom,” a converted Amy eventually realizes, after a blitz of female empowerment, liberation, bonding and unification. Nobody’s perfect, every “bad mom” has a good side, there’s beauty in imperfection, and when moms are all in it together, it’s all good!

Stay for the credits to meet the real-life moms of the cast members. For anyone feeling a bit roughed up and raw by the R-rated humor, this gentle, parting dollop of smooth sweetness is guaranteed to leave you with a smile.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Laughing All the Way to the Bank

Melissa McCarthy stars in raunchy rags-to-riches tale

The Boss

Starring Melissa McCarthy & Kristen Bell

Directed by Ben Falcone

Rated R

Steeled and shaped by a childhood of rejection in an orphanage, Michelle Darnell grew up to become a she-wolf of self-made business savvy. Now she’s a superstar investment titan and motivational-mojo guru who descends to the stage of frenzied fan events atop a giant golden phoenix in a spray of dollar bills, celebrating her brazen, competition-crushing excess like a carrot-topped combination of Donald Trump, Suze Orman and Richie Rich.

But the bigger they come, the harder they fall. And Michelle (Melissa McCarthy) tumbles with a titanic thud when she’s arrested for insider trading, loses her company and her home and has to serve a stint of white-collar jail time. When she’s released, with no friends and no family to call on, she bullies her way back to her former assistant, Claire (Kristen Bell), and her young daughter, Rachel (Ella Anderson).

Since making her film breakthrough as part of the ensemble in Bridesmaids (2011), McCarthy moved confidently into the lead for Identity Thief, Tammy, The Heat and Spy, proving her comedic bravura and her raucous adaptability for broad physical humor. She’s a cherub-faced spark plug who’ll go to just about any lengths for a laugh. The Boss is the second of her movies directed by her husband, actor-comedian Ben Falcone, who also makes a brief appearance (as he’s done in several of her films).

Film Title: The Boss

Claire (Kristen Bell) gets some unwanted fashion advice from Michelle (Melissa McCarthy).

Hollywood has always loved a good rags-to-riches tale, and McCarthy and Falcone (who also collaborated on the screenplay, along with Steve Mallory) wring this one for raunchy, R-rated guffaws and give it some crisp contemporary pops that seem deliberately, satirically timed and tuned for the Age of Trump. But it’s also a bit of a flopping mess, a hammy hodgepodge of crude jokes, awkward slapstick gags and sometimes mean-spirited, vulgar humor that just isn’t funny.

As Michelle plots her comeback, she poaches Rachel’s Dandelions scout troop to spin off her own group, Darwin’s Darlings, and creates a bustling new enterprise—built on Claire’s homemade brownies—to compete with the Dandelions’ cookie sales.

Forget Batman v Superman. When it’s Dandelions v Darlings, things get really ugly. If you ever wondered what a Quentin Tarantino-inspired, Kill Bill-esque tween cookie-brownie street brawl might look like, well, The Boss has it.

Film Title: The Boss

Peter Dinklage (from TV’s Game of Thrones) gets chuckles as Michelle’s spurned lover, now himself a preen-y mini-mogul obsessed with samurais. Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong plays Claire’s quirky supervisor at her depressing new office job. Kathy Bates has a scene as a wealthy mentor from Michelle’s past.

There are underlying themes about family and belonging, about rebuilding and reconnecting, about trust and ethics. But mostly The Boss is about laughing—all the way to the bank.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Life on ‘Mars’

Fan fervor revives cult favorite on big screen

Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars

Blu-ray $29.98, DVD $28.98 (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

 

Veronica Mars, a young super sleuth played by Kristen Bell, had many a prime-time close call and built up a sizeable TV following before the network bid her farewell in 2007. Earlier this year, however, due to fan clamor, Bell and the show’s creator, Rob Thomas, brought Veronica back in a full-length movie that also featured most of the series’ other original cast members. A selection of Blu-ray features, including a making-of doc, gag reel and on-set shenanigans with the actors and crew, make this home release a must-have for the Veronica faithful.

 

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Ice, Ice Baby

Disney princesses in ‘Frozen’ are too cool for storybook endings

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Frozen

Starring the voices of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff & Idina Menzel

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

PG, 108 minutes

Disney princesses are nothing new, but this movie is generous: It has not one, but two.

Loosely adapted from a 19th century Hans Christen Anderson folk epic, Frozen marks a return to the buoyant, song-filled fairytale-fantasy format that became a Disney hallmark in The Little Mermaid (another Hans Christen Anderson fable) and Beauty and the Beast.

Here, a pair of young royal daughters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), grow up apart, sequestered from each other in their sprawling Nordic palace after an unfortunate childhood incident reveals the dangerous darker side of Elsa’s mysterious “gift” to deep-freeze anything she touches.

When the girls become young women and Elsa is reluctantly crowned queen, her coronation ball ends in an unplanned eruption of her powers. Accidentally turning summer into winter and perma-frosting her entire kingdom, the “ice queen” flees to the top of a desolate snow-swept mountaintop.

FROZENSome of the townspeople think Elsa’s a “monster.” Her little-sis princess, insisting she’s just misunderstood, sets off to find her. Along the way, Anna meets a helpful ice harvester (Jonathan Groff, from TV’s Glee), his trusty reindeer Sven, and a goofy, gabby snowman, Olaf (Josh Gad), who longs to experience the warmth of summer—without realizing what heat can do his cool composure.

The songs woven into the storyline are almost all standouts, signaling a new batch of Disney musical cream rising to the top. They’re from the husband and wife songwriting team of Bobby and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Lopez has won Tony Awards for his Broadway work, and the tunes in Frozen likewise sound like they’re just waiting to be launched into a lavish, long-running stage production.

The story sags a bit in places but comes through with plenty of humor, heart and a couple of rousing action scenes, including a thrilling chase by snarling wolves through a predawn forest and an encounter with a fearsome snow monster. And the computer-generated animation is impressive, with many dazzling cinematic variations on the “beautiful, powerful, dangerous, cold” ice themes noted in the opening musical number.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.And in the end, we’re left with a message that won’t surprise anyone who’s ever seen any Disney movie—but one that, refreshingly, doesn’t quite conform to a “typical” princess-storybook ending, either. The two Frozen sisters may not exactly represent a new royal standard in Disney females, but they do pack a powerful two-fisted punch about the power of love…and waiting for the right person who, as Olaf puts it, is “worth melting for.”

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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