Horrible Bosses, Seth Gordon, 98 mins (15)
Cars 2, John Lasseter, 112 mins (U)

Hurrah for the movies, where bad employers get their comeuppance

Anyone who felt let down by The Hangover Part II can cheer themselves up by seeing Horrible Bosses (horrible title), another raucous comedy about three middle-class white men who venture several leagues out of their depth – but one which has the advantage of not just being a carbon copy of the first Hangover film.

The three men are Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, all of whom are stuck with the bosses from hell. (Must ... resist ... making ... News International ... joke.) Bateman is tyrannised by the reptilian Kevin Spacey. Sudeikis has to take orders from Colin Farrell, who has a comb-over and a coke habit, and who's running his father's company into the ground. (Must ... resist ...) Charlie Day, meanwhile, is being sexually harassed by Jennifer Aniston, a fantasy of many men, as his buddies keep reminding him, but the last thing he wants on the eve of his wedding. Realising that there are no other jobs open to them in the current economic climate, the three friends conspire one drunken evening to kill each other's bosses.

Given that premise, the humour isn't as dark as it needs to be. It can't convince us that the bosses deserve to die or that their cowed employees would be capable of doing the deed. What edginess the film does have comes instead from the inordinate quantity of swearing, plus a smattering of homophobia and misogyny. But in among all the swearing, etc, there's also an abundance of witty lines and cherishable situations, as the trio bumbles apologetically into the underworld.

The three leads' banter has the liveliness of expert improvisation – but, critically, it doesn't take over the film. In most of today's post-Judd Apatow comedies, the digressive improv slows things down to a crawl, whereas the director of Horrible Bosses never forgets that he's making a plot-driven farce, and he ensures that each moment of each scene propels the story forward at high speed, however much the men are wittering on about whether or not they've ever seen Snow Falling on Cedars. Horrible Bosses clocks in at a trim 98 minutes, a good half-hour shorter than any of Apatow's films. It's a hilarious example of less is more.

Cars was Pixar's only dull cartoon, but it was directed by the company's own not-at-all-horrible boss, John Lasseter, and it sold a zillion dollars' worth of merchandise, so here we are with Cars 2, also directed by Lasseter. To his credit, it isn't just a rerun of the first film. Far from it. Owen Wilson's Lightning McQueen, the hero of Cars, has fallen back into a minor supporting role, and it's his hick pal, Mater the tow truck, who's in pole position. While McQueen hops from continent to continent for a three-stage grand prix, Mater gets dragged into a spy caper by two British cars voiced by Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer.

The racing and the espionage don't fit together too snugly – it feels as if Lasseter had a spy movie idea and reworked it to suit the Cars brand – and the film ends up as an exhausting muddle of voice-activated bombs and electro-magnetic pulse emitters, with none of the emotional pull of Toy Story or Wall-E. Besides, we've seen James Bond with pets (Cats and Dogs, G-Force) and James Bond with children (Spy Kids, Agent Cody Banks), so James Bond with cars feels tired and formulaic by Pixar standards. Caine and Mortimer have already played versions of their characters in Austin Powers 3 and Steve Martin's Pink Panther movies, which gives you some sense of how far behind the pack Cars 2 is.

There's no question, though, that the animation is phenomenal, its many action sequences and international settings rendered in glowing, microscopic detail. And just as the first Cars connected with children more than with adults, Cars 2 is sure to be adored by young viewers who won't mind the weak puns or the sentimental bromides. There's nothing wrong with a cartoon providing a couple of hours' fun for children, of course. It's just that Pixar films usually do so much more.

Next Week:

Nicholas Barber goes into battle with Captain America: The First Avenger

Also Showing: 24/07/2011

The Big Picture (115 mins, 15)

This French adaptation of Douglas Kennedy's novel stars Romain Duris (below) as a suburban lawyer who commits a violent crime when he discovers his wife's infidelity. As long as Duris is covering his tracks – cleverly, methodically, but never far from abject panic – The Big Picture is a well-constructed thriller, with some arch commentary on the bourgeoisie: it's Duris's wife's choice of white wine that gives her away. But then it drifts off into a wish-fulfilment reverie in which our hero is rewarded with effortless success. The film's second half is as as baggy and implausible as its first half is tense and cogent.

The Violent Kind (85 mins, 18)

The Violent Kind may be a cut-price horror movie about good-looking young people under attack from sinister forces in a remote house, but at least those young people are Hell's Angels, which makes a change from the usual college kids. And the strangeness multiplies as the film lurches along, until it's whirling with demons, aliens and all sorts of borrowings from Donnie Darko and Blue Velvet.

The Lavender Hill Mob (81 mins, U)

A 60th anniversary reissue of one of the finest Ealing comedies, starring Alec Guinness and Stanley Holloway as two strait-laced chaps who plan a bullion robbery. The humour hasn't dated, but the plot certainly has, revolving as it does around souvenir trinkets being manufactured not in China but in London.

One Life (84 mins, U)

Family-friendly BBC wildlife documentary narrated by Daniel Craig.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own