Bad Moms star Mila Kunis: Becoming a mother made me choose my film roles differently
As working motherhood is given the Hangover treatment, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn tell Susan Griffin about the real and important message that is at the heart of the comedy
Mila Kunis is keen people aren't misled by the title of her new movie, Bad Moms. "It isn't about mums that put their kids' lives in danger or anything. It's not like, 'I'm a bad mum, I forgot I had a child!' It's not that dramatic," says the 33-year-old.
"It's about being able to allow yourself to make mistakes. To know that it's okay to ask for help and not put so much pressure on yourself. The antithesis of the perfection that society puts on us and that we put on ourselves."
Kunis stars as Amy, a busy working mother on the verge of a nuclear-family meltdown.
After finally snapping and admitting the stress of trying to juggle work and family life is too much, she joins forces with fellow over-stressed mums, Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn).
Together, they decide to free themselves from conventional responsibilities, and embark on a binge of long-overdue freedom and self-indulgence, which puts them on a collision course with PTA queen bee Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her devotees, Vicky (Annie Mumolo) and Stacy (Jada Pinkett Smith).
Ukraine-born Kunis admits she was a little surprised to discover the film was penned by The Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
"When I read it the first time, I didn't pay attention to who wrote it, and then at the very end I was like, 'Huh?' They'd written, 'To our wives'. I flipped to the front page and thought, 'No s***, it was written by two guys'.
"And it did make sense," she adds. "It was written very much like an homage."
Her co-star, Hahn, agrees.
"It is such a beautiful love letter to their wives," remarks the 43-year-old. "Even if I wasn't in this movie, they spoke exactly to the kind of movie that I would want to see with my girl pals on a summer evening.
"People are hungry for good storytelling of any kind. Complicated and messy women are part of it."
Hahn's character Carla is blissfully unconcerned with people's opinions of her, a trait the actress says she doesn't share.
"I always feel, in whatever role I get, I act out the fantasy of what I'm unable to do in my real life," says Illinois-born Hahn, whose credits also include comedies How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days and We're The Millers.
"There's something so cathartic about playing someone that could completely divorce herself, whether or not it's the healthiest thing to do, from guilt or consequence."
She confesses she'd feel too guilty to follow suit and properly cut loose from responsibility.
"You know, we're working mamas, so just to even go out with your girlfriends on a Tuesday night for dinner, you feel like you're going to be so screwed the next morning," she says.
"But then you think, 'God, that's going to feed my soul for the next week - just being able to see my pals that I haven't seen in a gazillion years'.
"So I think there's a happy medium. It's not even about the alcohol. It's just about lessening those crazy expectations that we put on each other and ourselves as to what it is to be a perfect mum. It's impossible."
Although the script was lauded by the female cast, they were all encouraged to hone lines.
"The jokes were always there, and Jon always had lists of one-liners that he would throw out at any given time to any one of us," notes Kunis, who's also starred in Friends With Benefits and Black Swan, and is known for voicing Meg in long-running animated series Family Guy.
"That being said, they were also keen on making it sound conversational and not like somebody sat down and wrote it in front of a computer. Ultimately, every line was reworked a little bit to make it seem natural."
Her husband, actor Ashton Kutcher, has already seen the movie.
"He genuinely loved it, he laughed a lot and he got teary-eyed. The humour is not just female-based, it's universal," says Kunis, who's currently pregnant with their second child, a younger sibling for daughter Wyatt, who turns two in October.
On whether the tot's picked up any of her mum's traits, a laughing Kunis blurts: "I hope she's better than I am in every single way! She's funny, I'll tell you that much. She's a very funny kid."
Hahn, who has two children with the actor Ethan Sandler, sees familiar attributes in both her offspring. "My daughter has totally got a performer in there. It's hilarious. And my son is so sensitive. We keep calling him our little melancholy Dane. He's kind of quiet, long blonde hair, a little bit of a science nerd," she adds.
She recognises that motherhood has given her a new-found assertiveness with regards to her career.
"I feel so much more confident since having children. And it's because I think I have less time to be precious about it (acting)," she says.
Kunis agrees, adding: "My priorities shifted when I decided to start a family. I think I became incredibly selfless. Knowing I was going to have a baby made me think, 'I know I have to give up so much of myself and I'm happy to do that'. It also makes you pick projects differently.
"In my 20s, I had nothing to lose, and all of a sudden I had a husband and a child. I was like, 'This is not worth it; I want to be home with my family'."
Bad Moms is released today