A Really, Really Expensive Box of Milk Duds

August 9th, 2016 by Max Allan Collins

As regular readers of this update will know, my wife Barb and I are dedicated moviegoers, and almost always see at least one movie a week. A typical weekend will have me working on Sunday and then, as sort of reward, catching a late afternoon show at the Palms, a very nice multi-plex here in Muscatine, Iowa.

Those readers will also know that the missus and I have been known to walk out of movies. I mentioned, a while back, that Barb and I were watching a really terrible Italian western at home one evening not long ago, and I said, “Honey, back in the ‘70s, would we have walked out of this movie?” And she said, “No…but then we had our whole lives in front of us.”

Barb usually has long since decided to bail before I’ve given up on a movie. She patiently rests her eyes, waiting for me to catch up with her disgust. Occasionally it takes us, or anyway me, a long time to realize I’m throwing time away on an unworthy film. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (which a good number of people liked) just wore me down with its constant over-the-top battles and contrived conflict, but we stayed probably a good hour before jumping ship. The awful Seth Rogen Christmas comedy (make that “comedy”), THE NIGHT BEFORE, was until this weekend the film that took us the least amount of time before walking out – fifteen or twenty minutes.

But the loser and new champion is BAD MOMS, or as Barb described it, “That was a really, really expensive box of Milk Duds.” We left around the ten-minute mark. We had chosen the film because SUICIDE SQUAD looked like the kind of film we’d wind up writing a suicide note after seeing – the unpleasant imagery of the preview was already more than I wanted rolling around somewhere in my brain. We considered JASON BOURNE, but nothing about the trailer indicated it would include anything we hadn’t already seen three or four times before in the franchise. And BAD MOMS had a decent Rotten Tomatoes rating (63% fresh, 78% favorable from audiences).

Also, BAD MOMS had Kristen Bell in it, second-billed. Both Barb and I are VERONICA MARS fans in particular and Kristen Bell fans in general – I even sat through every episode of her Showtime series, HOUSE OF LIES, despite finding the lead characters incredibly unsympathetic and even unpleasant. We suffered through the really crappy Melissa McCarthy movie, THE BOSS, chiefly because Bell was in it.

But BAD MOMS is so offensive – not in the sense that its would-be raunchy humor offended us, rather that it was an insult to the human race – that we left before the second-billed Bell even appeared on the screen. Reviews indicate that this female version of THE HANGOVER (by the same writers) has a funny, mostly improv performance by Kathy Hahn, who also hadn’t made it on screen before we left. Have to take their word for it.

Mila Kunis plays a Mom with two dreadful children who don’t appreciate her, and a boorish husband whose depiction made me feel like I was Martin Luther King at a Stepin Fetchit film festival. The life on screen, in a supposed suburb of Chicago, had no resemblance to human experience. Kunis, beautifully dressed, works at an office where she seems to be the boss, claiming to be the oldest one there at age 32, yet is also described as a parttime employee who’s been there six years. Clark Duke of HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, either a fellow employee or Kunis’ boss, immediately tells Kunis and another female employee about a creepy, overtly sexual dream he had, something that would get him fired or sued at any real company. Kunis is shown dropping her kids off at school and carrying in a giant paper-mache head of Nixon that she made for her son for a school project. Please explain to me what’s funny about that, and why we should like a mother who does her son’s homework for him (the title BAD MOMS is supposed to be ironic…see, they’re good moms but off on a HANGOVER-type spree, or would have been if we’d stayed around for it). Also at school is a trio of country club women (led by Christina Applegate) whose lot in life appears to be standing at the curb in front of the school to dis Kunis. Kunis’ husband is an unshaven fool who laughs at his wife when she struggles into the house carrying armloads of groceries, says he had a hard day at work because he had two conference calls and a nap, gobbles the elaborate meal she makes without thanks, gives his son a high five for getting a D on a test, and – caught masturbating in front of his computer with his pants down – tells his wife he’s checking his prostate.

Barb went out so quickly she might have been fleeing a fire. I called down the hall to her, “What time is the Apocalypse?”

By the way, a lot of people were laughing at this stuff, inexplicably…and some had their young children with them. There was a Trump rally feel to it.

A bad movie you walk out on is like a really, really bad dream from which you force yourself to wake up.

* * *

Let’s conclude with a prayer for the future of mankind in general and America in particular, and a look at this very nice BETTER DEAD review.


Tags: , , ,

10 Responses to “A Really, Really Expensive Box of Milk Duds”

  1. Thomas Zappe says:

    “Martin Luther King at a Stepin Fetchit film festival…” Imagery worthy of Mark Twain.

  2. Mark Lambert says:

    I felt the same way about the Melissa McCarthy movie IDENTITY THEFT. Not funny, unsympathetic characters, and we were supposed to laugh at this guy’s life being ruined by an identity thief? Usually, if I’ve paid the money, I go ahead and watch the whole thing, but I walked out on that one after about the first half hour, and wished that I had done so earlier. Thanks for the BAD MOMS review, Al — I generally (but not always) agree with your takes on movies, and this is one I’ll skip.

  3. Terry Beatty says:

    I liked CIVIL WAR more than you did — but agree with your point about the non-stop contrived fights. Even with the much better WINTER SOLDIER, I still have an issue with Marvel making a Captain America flick that’s so violent that I can’t share it with my 7 year old Cap-crazy son. They got the first one so right — and it’s a favorite in our house. But, damn it, I can’t show the kid the sequels, as they are just too damn brutal. Same deal with MAN OF STEEL — why make a Superman movie you can’t show to kids?

    Seeing the previews for JASON BOURNE and the new JACK REACHER flick back to back, I crossed those off my list pretty quick. I think I’ve seen enough guys punching each other in the face accompanied by massively loud sound effects for the time being.

    Did you see LEGEND OF TARZAN? Curious as to your reaction to that one.

    As for BAD MOMS, I’ve learned to stay away from such things in the first place. There are all sorts of movies now that you couldn’t pay me to watch — MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES? No thank you very much.

    Was the AB FAB movie not playing locally?

  4. Andrew Reiss says:

    Max, the only films that I should of walked out was a canibal film called Cut and Run and the Rodney Dangerfield movie Lady Bugs; “What is this a Drag Race”. Now, these films were when I was a teenager/ young twenty something so I had nothing better to do than to stay seated and see if the movies could get any worse! The mere fact that you see so many films, increases the chancethethe

  5. Andrew Reiss says:

    Max, the only films that I should of walked out was a canibal film called Cut and Run and the Rodney Dangerfield movie Lady Bugs; “What is this a Drag Race”. Now, these films I saw when I was a teenager/ young twenty something so I had nothing better to do than to stay seated and see if the movies could get any worse! The mere fact that you see so many films, increases the chance that you see one that mkes you want to walk out.

  6. Max Allan Collins says:

    Thanks for the great comments.

    Terry the AB FAB movie isn’t playing here. Probably in Iowa City. I reviewed TARZAN and a few other films a while back, here:


  7. Terry Beatty says:

    Ah — somehow I missed or forgot that. Funny — I recall reading the REST of that post. Must be getting old or something….

  8. Brian Drake says:

    When you walk out of these movies, do you just go down the hall to another theater? You’ve paid to get in, after all. Or is that bad? :)

  9. Joe Menta says:

    If you leave within ten minutes, they might be willing to give you your money back, or at least give you a pass for a future movie. You should ask if you’re in that situation again.

  10. Max Allan Collins says:

    We have been known, if the timing was right, to slip into another theater. I never thought of asking for a pass to a future movie. I’ll keep that in mind.