In the Dark: Bad moms, bad gods make for big fun

The cast of A Bad Mom's Christmas

‘A Bad Moms Christmas’

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn

Directed by: John Lucas and Scott Moore

Rated: R

It’s not unusual to rush out a sequel after a hit movie like “Bad Moms.” It just struck a chord with its target audience of females, so it makes sense to go for a repeat. The three stars — Mila Kunis, Kristin Bell and Kathryn Hahn — return, and in a clever twist, this movie brings their mothers into the picture, which explains a lot about each of them.

As foils to the main characters, each of the mothers has her own baggage. Christine Baranski plays Ruth, the uptight “what will other people think” mom to Kunis’s character Amy, who makes her holidays miserable with her over-planning. Kiki’s (Bell) mother is played by look-a-like Cheryl Hines and she’s a clinger to the point that she styles her hair to look like her daughter’s. Finally, Susan Sarandon as Isis drops in as Carla’s (Hahn) mother, and it’s clear the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. She’s a gambling addict without a care in the world. In fact, she can’t even remember the last time she visited her daughter.

The premise remains the same: The burdens and expectations of the holidays are threatening to ruin it for these mothers whose visiting mothers are their biggest problem. A lot of wine and whining later, all is resolved. This is one of those “no harm, no foul” movies with lots of raunchy laughs. It might not be as funny as the first one, but it holds its own. A great supporting cast includes Justin Hartley of “This Is Us” fame as Ty Swindell, a male stripper who falls for Carla in one of the movie’s scenes that must have earned it the R rating.

‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett

Directed by: Taika Waititi

Rated: PG-13

I marvel at the way marvelous Marvel Studios manages to make hit after hit. How’s that for alliteration? But it’s true. It’s hard to imagine that DC Comics could set the bar any higher than this when it premieres “Justice League” in just a few weeks. Thor, in particular, is one of the more flippant superheroes, and over time he has become even more so, and this is full of sly humor. Even evil Hela (Cate Blanchett), Marvel’s first female villain, gets off more than her share of quips as she wreaks havoc on Thor’s home, Asgard.

This installment begins with the death of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), but not before he reveals that Hela is Thor’s older sister whom he imprisoned because of her destructive appetites. His death releases her, and she heads straight for Asgard to claim her rightful throne — oh, and the rest of the realms, too. She’s not about to stop at nine, as Odin did.

Thor enlists help from bad brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who apparently did not really die in the last “Thor” movie, and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who first captures Thor and sells him into service as a gladiator where he runs into his old friend Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).

Divided into three acts, the “Ragnarok” part is the last act as Hela tries to destroy Asgard and Thor rains the thunder down on her with his crew. The weakest link is the second act that finds Thor enslaved on another realm at the mercy of the Grandmaster, a kind of Oz the Great Wizard sham of a character played with glee by Jeff Goldblum. Once Hulk, Thor and Valkyrie make their escape and head to Asgard, the action — and the special effects — ramp up to a crashing finale with Blanchett relishing her evil side as Hela.

 

Credit must be given to director Taika Waititi, who fought for his vision of the movie. He wanted a more “Guardians of the Galaxy” attitude rather than going darker. It wasn’t that long ago that superheroes were all so angst-ridden they could barely save the world for drowning in their own depression. Now the pendulum has swung the other way, and Waititi rightly figured this was the way to go. “Thor: Ragnarok” earned $120 million in its first weekend. That’s how you bring the thunder.

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