Horrible Bosses 2

November 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day
Directed by: Sean Anders (“That’s My Boy”)
Written by: Sean Anders (“Dumb and Dumber To”) and John Morris (“Dumb and Dumber To”)

In an alarming trend that has been documented on this site many, many times, the cornucopia of sequels released every year is becoming absurd. Most of the time, either with a follow up to a financially successful first installment or the fervor of a fanatical fanbase, most sequels have at least some element that is beneficial to the studio. Then you get something like “Horrible Bosses 2.” It made a respectable $117 million domestically (though a far cry from the ridiculous $277 million that the first “Hangover” movie that spawned a franchise) and was a decent enough comedy, but it certainly did not have people clamoring for a sequel. But this is the film landscape we inhabit, and as a result, clueless amateur criminals played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day are back for more in this unnecessary follow-up.

After being put in a position to have their new company and invention completely fail, friends Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) decide the only thing they can do to keep their business afloat is to kidnap their rich offender’s son and hold him for ransom. But as we know, the trio are far from criminal masterminds and must once again figure out how to get away with a serious crime without screwing up.

In the worst symptom of “sequelitis,” this is where the film, with a shaky premise at best, begins to retrace its steps from the first movie. The film hits repeated comedic beat after repeated comedic beat and tells the same jokes as the first film under slightly different circumstances. They completely botch breaking into places and risk their identities being compromised, only this time, they are somehow dumber than before.

Beyond plot points, the character designs are also extremely similar. Jennifer Anniston is still completely sex crazed, Kevin Spacey’s character is still ruthless and mean and Jamie Foxx’s “Motherfucker Jones” continues to give worthless advice in exchange money or goods. It is here where the jokes start to feel completely stale. The novelty of Aniston’s character, for example, was one of the most memorable things about the first film. Here, it feels obligatory and passé as the novelty of it has completely worn off. As far as peripheral characters, the most notable is the one inhabited by Chris Pine, who is ironically enough rehashing a character type of his own, playing a cleaner and slightly less crazy iteration of his rich character from Joe Carnahan’s “Stretch.” Still, Pine is game here and fits in well with the gang proving himself to be pretty talented at comedy.

It would be unfair to say that “Horrible Bosses 2” is completely humorless. The sheer talent of the three leads and their undeniable chemistry allows the film to be occasionally funny, mostly at one-liners rather than its bigger, broader moments. Like the first film, Day probably garners the most consistent laughs, but everyone here is clearly having fun. But even though there are some laughs to be had, it doesn’t change the fact that “Horrible Bosses 2” has no real reason to exist and is less funny and inferior in every way to its predecessor. It’s almost as if they played “Mad Libs” with the beats and inserted a new crime. What a waste of a fantastic comedy trio.

Epic

May 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Ashley, Reviews

Starring: Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz
Directed by: Chris Wedge (“Robots”)
Written by: James V. Hart (“August Rush”), Tom J. Astle (“Get Smart”), Matt Ember (“Failure to Launch”), William Joyce (debut) and Daniel Shere (debut)

While the title is a drastic overstatement, “Epic” is sure to send the kiddos off with a smile and some good laughs. With that said, it’s important to warn those who are expecting a magical world filled with dynamic characters and a heartwarming storyline to wipe your expectations clean. “Epic” doesn’t reach those heights.

In “Epic,” teenager Mary Katherine, aka M.K., (Amanda Seyfried), who has recently lost her mother, must deal with the transition of moving in with her kooky and absent-minded father, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis). Hard at work, the professor is trying to prove the existence of a secret world which inhabits tiny warriors who protect the forest, a theory M.K. isn’t buying. The only bright side to living in her new creaky home is spending time with her rambunctious, beat-up Pug, Ozzie. After accidentally letting Ozzie loose, M.K. ends up chasing him into the forest where she is magically shrunken into the secret world her father told her about – a world of fairylike creatures and talking animals.

Caught in the middle of a raging war between good (the Leafmen) and evil (the Boggans), M.K. finds her tiny self destined to protect the “chosen pod,” which now holds the good spirit of the forest, passed on by the slain Forest Queen, Tara (Beyonce). In order to defeat Mandrake (Christoph Waltz), leader of the Boggans, who is plotting to take over the forest, M.K. enlists the help of Ronin (Colin Farrell), the noble and trusty Commander of the Leafmen; Nod (Josh Hutcherson), a rebellious hero; and a couple of comic-relief sidekicks, Mub the Slug (Anziz Ansari) and Grub the Snail (Chris O’Dowd).

With so many opportunities to live up to its name, “Epic” never fulfills its destiny. Focusing a little more on the divided relationship between M.K. and her father would’ve been the easiest fix, but the film never takes full advantage when it has the chance. It barely grazes the surface of the father-daughter narrative and leaves the audience with unanswered questions.

Although unsuccessful at capturing the emotions of the entire story thanks to mediocre voice acting and a static storyline, “Epic” makes up in aesthetics with its whimsical animation and intricate battle choreography. But what truly slides in and saves the day, literally, are Mub the Slug and Grub the Snail. With their slapstick humor and memorable jokes, “Epic” is more enjoyable than it really should be.

The Campaign

August 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis
Directed by: Jay Roach (“Austin Powers,” “Meet the Parents”)
Written by: Chris Henchy (“The Other Guys”) and Shawn Harwell (debut)

Let’s face it: Will Ferrell’s comedies consist of little more than skeletons of plot strung together with stretches of the actor and his co-stars hilariously improvising. Yeah, you might remember that “Anchorman” had a running plot thread featuring the birth of a panda at the San Diego Zoo or that “Step Brothers” wrapped up at the helicopter expo known as the Catalina Wine Mixer, but the things that are stuck in your head are the Channel 4 News Team’s discussing a man’s death by trident or two grown men’s creepy, child-like glee at the thought of getting bunk beds, thus freeing up floor space in their shared bedroom for so many more activities.

The trend continues in “The Campaign.” Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a Democratic Congressman from North Carolina with John Edwards’ hair and Bill Clinton’s libido. Brady coasts through Congress with one goal and one goal only: being Vice President. Okay, two goals: being Vice President and having lots and lots of extramarital sex with perky young supporters. When a sex scandal inevitably rocks Brady’s reelection campaign, unscrupulous billionaire businessmen the Motch brothers (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow) hand pick a candidate to take Brady down and further their own interests: naive local tour guide Marty Huggins, played by Zach Galifianakis.

Pitting two comedic heavyweights like Ferrell and Galifiankis against one another pays off in predictably humorous fashion. Ferrell, turning years of parodying George W. Bush on its ear, once again gives his all to the sharp, sleazy Cam Brady while Galifianakis steps away from the semi-dangerous weirdo characters that made him famous and instead plays Marty Huggins as a sweet, simple man forced to adapt after being thrust into the cutthroat world of corporate-backed politics. The film, however, would’ve worked better if director Jay Roach (“Meet the Parents”) would have given in more to the absurdity and less to the half-hearted political sentimentality.

Roach, best known for comedies like the “Austin Powers” series, recently dove head-first into political statement filmmaking with a pair of HBO movies: the solid “Recount” and the so-so “Game Change.” Perhaps “The Campaign” represented a happy medium to him, but the focus on heavy political issues (loss of jobs to China, evil corporate influence on elections) in the third act derail the comedy just as it starts to get sublimely whacked-out. If you’ve watched the trailers and commercials (or even early cuts of the movie) closely, you’ll notice how many jokes didn’t make it into the final film. While this practice is common in Hollywood, it’s disappointing that it seems to have been done in service to trite political statements like Congress needs people who care or that corporate agendas are ruining America.

Like a rider for a bridge to nowhere tacked on to a health care bill, the too-serious political mumbo-jumbo is annoying, but not annoying enough to sour the whole deal. Ultimately “The Campaign” delivers what is promises: big laughs.

Going the Distance

September 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day
Directed by: Nannette Burstein (“American Teen”)
Written by: Geoff LaTulippe (debut)

In a typical romantic comedy it’s usually an unwritten rule that a best friend character is given just enough material to steal a scene or two and then spends the rest of his or her time providing sound advice or a shoulder to cry on. But in “Going the Distance” you don’t have to get too far into the film before it becomes evident who is really carrying the rom-com where it needs to go. It is unfortunate Drew Barrymore and Justin Long had to come along and cramp their style.

In “Going the Distance,” Barrymore and Long take a backseat to comedians Charlie Day (TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) and Jason Sudeikis (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), who play Dan and Box, the best friends of Garrett (Long), a record label employee living in New York City who falls for Erin (Barrymore), a newspaper intern, six weeks before she’s scheduled to finish up her internship and move back home to San Francisco.

Despite the short amount of time they have to spend together, Garrett and Erin start their cutesy courtship and first-time screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe makes sure to squeeze as much out of their clever personalities before they retire to opposite sides of the country. Before Erin departs, however, the two decide they want to try a long-distance relationship.

Alone in their respective cities, the new couple, through formulaic montages and rom-com romance revolving around text messages and Skype, Garrett and Erin journey through the vast emotions one would feel if their significant other was thousands of miles away. There to balance out all of Garrett’s jealously and loneliness are Dan and Box, who inject some much needed humor into all his pouty moments. Meanwhile on the West Coast, Christina Applegate plays Erin’s concerned sister Corinne, a character shamelessly cut from the same cloth as Leslie Mann’s in “Knocked Up.”

But like most wannabe Judd Apatowesque comedies, “Going the Distance” has neither the charm nor enough laughs to drag it from the trenches. Aside from the few secondary characters that brighten up all the lame lovie-dovieness that Garrett and Erin share both from afar and when they have the cash to fly in for a visit, Oscar-nominated documentary director Nannette Burstein (“American Teen”) just can’t make the profanity-laced script mesh well enough with eyelash-fluttering romance. 

What’s left are gags about dry humping, pop culture references of “Top Gun,” and a mishap in a tanning salon that set the bar fairly low even for Long’s lack of slapstick-comedy prowess. Barrymore’s still as accessible as ever, but if she’s trying to find some edge in her roles she’ll have to travel farther than this.