Horrible Bosses, Seth Gordon, 98 mins (15)
Cars 2, John Lasseter, 112 mins (U)
Hurrah for the movies, where bad employers get their comeuppance
Sunday 24 July 2011
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.
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.
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Geoffrey Macnab: The Wolf of Wall Street's account of white-collar excess is A Rake’s Progress on steroids
scienceThe new development in bio-printing technology could be used in the future to restore lost vision - though years of research still await
architectureThe design collective which has stuck two fingers up at the modernists will call it quits at Venice
... But if you’re one of those poor souls offended by Jennifer Lopez’s choice of leotard, Grace Dent wants you to get a bloody grip
Arts & Ents blogs
Brian Griffin returns: Cartoon dog back from the dead in Family Guy Christmas episode
Matthew Perry: He'll be there for you
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
FAT’s all folks: Architecture’s biggest jokers sign off in style
Shia LaBeouf apologises for plagiarising cartoonist's story for Cannes short film
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- 1 Facebook 'self-censorship': study records when you don't post to find more ways to share
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 British prisoner Dr Abbas Khan found dead in Syrian jail days before he was due to be handed over to MP George Galloway
- 4 Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful - study
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >