Review: Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

Horrible-Bosses-2-pic-Jason-Sudeikis-Charlie-Day-and-Jason-Bateman_zps1c08e91b

Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis reunite for Horrible Bosses 2, a predictably bland and entirely unnecessary sequel to the 2011 comedy. While that film suceeded in at least aprtially delivering on its amusing premise, its follow-up does not. Fed up of being used and abused by their employers, Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) start their own business. But when their first product is stolen by investor Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), they concoct a plan to kidnap his son and ransom him back for the lost money. Continue reading “Review: Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)”

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Review: This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

This Is Where I Leave You

Shawn Levy takes a break from his usual comedy-heavy fare to direct the spare family drama This Is Where I Leave You. After catching his wife in bed with his boss, Judd (Jason Bateman) sinks into a deep depression, worsened by the news of his father’s death. Upon venturing back to his childhood home, Judd attempts to reconnect with his mother (Jane Fonda) and his three siblings (Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver), each of whom is harbouring their own problems. Continue reading “Review: This Is Where I Leave You (2014)”

Review: Identity Thief (2013)

Identity Thief

Last year’s Horrible Bosses was something of a mixed bag: a comedy that hoped to capitalise on Bridesmaids’ recent success but, despite an interesting premise and some enthusiastic performances, didn’t quite reach its full potential. In many ways, the same can be said for director Seth Gordon’s follow-up, Identity Thief, only this time there’s far less fun to be had. Continue reading “Review: Identity Thief (2013)”

Review: The Change Up (2011)

The body-swap comedy has become somewhat a staple in Hollywoodland of late. While some films find intriguing and interesting ways of exploring the subject, for example Freaky Friday and 17 Again, others seem to struggle from the offset, falling into an unoriginal heap of bad jokes, one dimensional characters and despair. The Change Up, unsurprisingly written by the duo responsible for The Hangover – have you seen the posters?! – falls into the latter pile.

Dave (Jason Bateman) and Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) are two guys with entirely different lifestyles. Dave, a married, middle-aged lawyer, yearns for Continue reading “Review: The Change Up (2011)”

Review: Horrible Bosses (2011)

For Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), the only thing that would make the daily grind more tolerable would be to grind their intolerable bosses into dust. Quitting is not an option, so, with the benefit of a few-too-many drinks and some dubious advice from a hustling ex-con, the three friends devise a convoluted and seemingly foolproof plan to rid themselves of their respective employers…permanently. There’s only one problem: even the best laid plans are only as foolproof as the brains behind them.

While the premise for Horrible Bosses starts off as a simplistic and mundane everyday comedy, it quickly (and welcomely) develops into something far more devilish and sinister. Screenwriters Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein may not bring a whole lot of plausibility or realism to the table, and you may find yourself scratching your head at the film’s outlandish ideas, but their zealous efforts go towards creating something bold, eccentric and ahead of the game.

The central trio of Bateman, Day and Sudeikis is what really bolsters this comedy. Their characters are vastly different but gel so well together, bouncing off one another with an incredible charm and quick wit. Bateman has sharpened his skill to deliver a raw comedic performance, and Sudeikis is solidly on-from. Out of the three though, it’s Day who truly stands out, doing so at every available opportunity. His rapport with Aniston in particular is expertly acted.

In terms of the bosses, and in that respect the main supporting cast, Kevin Spacey owns his role. Obviously in performance euphoria, he rabidly shoots off abuse like he’s been waiting his whole career to play this slave-driving psycho. Though shamefully kept in the background, Colin Farrell entirely embraces his less than flattering physical transformation, along with a daft vocabulary and racist sensibilities. As for Jennifer Aniston, she has finally been cast against type as the nymphomaniac Dr. Harris, dropping one hysterical vulgarity after another. Rachel Green is no more, and Aniston has a whole lot more to offer as an actress than most cinemagoers have been led to believe. She has, for better or worse, well and truly shed her good girl image.

As a director, Gordon fares very well. On the back of his outstanding documentary The King Of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters, Four Christmases was a clear career misstep. To Horrible Bosses, however, he has brought unabashed zany humour, immersive interspersed drama and an offbeat directing style: techniques clearly built up during his time spent making documentaries and working on veteran television comedies, such as 30 Rock. In short: a perfect mix for welcomely off-kilter comedy film.

The two most noticeable flaws of Horrible Bosses, however, are that it never fully measures up to its outrageously dark premise, and that it ends up feeling borderline offensive at times. The film does provide elements of dark comedy, finding humour in scenes of death, mutilation and drug use, but it’s played all too cosily and light-hearted, never evoking the desired reaction. Also, however fun it is to watch Dr. Harris sexually harass Dale and hear how much Kurt wants to sleep with every living female, it often comes across as crass and degrading, and can be uncomfortable to watch.

That said, Horrible Bosses is still frequently hilarious, with laughs arriving both hard and often once the film finds its feet, thanks in no part to the sharply written script and enthusiasm evident in the well selected cast. There are even times when it sets itself up as a new favourite for the workplace comedy genre in the vein of Office Space or Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, but it ultimately falls short and feels miles away from its courageously crazy premise. Nevertheless, it’s a well-intended and laugh-out-loud comedy worth a chance.

Review: The Switch (2010)

Originally titled The Baster, The Switch is an indie romantic-drama from the mind of Allan Loeb, who previously wrote screenplay’s for Things We Lost in the Fire and 21, and is loosely based on a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides.

The film centers on the overly anxious, perplexing and irritating Wally, who’s unmarried 40-year-old best friend, Kassie (Aniston), turns to a turkey baster in order to become pregnant. After moving to Michigan to raise her child, Kassie returns and reunites with Wally, who has been living with a secret: he replaced her preferred sperm sample with his own.

The Switch, which most would label as a female-centred rom-com, instead switches the focus onto the male’s point-of-view. It ponders serious, life-changing questions about pregnancy and fatherhood, in a heartfelt and humorous way. Bateman plays the role of Wally perfectly, highlighting his charming, wry personality in an endearing and well-natured way, showing Bateman has what it takes to carry a high-profile comedy film.

Aniston, in a much-welcomed departure from her previous films, holds her own, providing an appealing, yet restrained performance as a single mother, letting audiences see why she was Hollywood’s sweetheart in the first place. Jeff Goldbum and Juliette Lewis shine in their limited roles, each embodying their characters to the best of their ability, while never outshining the central leads.

Despite the source material being predictable, and the sometimes cringeworthy dialogue, the directors – Will Speck and Josh Gordon – manage to keep the film on track, heading toward an ultimate goal, maintaining the message throughout and never letting the films throwaway moments overshadow the light-hearted, rather brilliant ones that some critics seem to be ignoring.

The Switch may not break any boundaries, or attract a particularly wide audience, but it’s surprisingly funny and sufficiently light-hearted take on an often bland genre. Bateman proves himself as a male lead, while Aniston proves there’s more to her acting range than silly, generic comedies.