Horrible Bosses 2 – Film Review

Horrible Bosses 2

I quite enjoyed Horrible Bosses. I didn’t love it but there was a simple plot, actors I liked, and I didn’t spend the duration angry, bored, and offended. The same cannot be said for the sequel.

The plot of Horrible Bosses was straight forward. The three leads played by Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, and Jason Sudeikis all hated their bosses and so collectively decided to help one another murder their superiors. Hilarity, of a sort, ensued and everything was wrapped up neatly at the end. Horrible Bosses 2 stumbles into the room ignoring its own pointlessness and established the trio as having moved on from their happy endings to set up a business together. Having been tricked by a greedy entrepreneur, Christoph Waltz continuing to accept any role offered, they find themselves deep in debt and with their fledgling company under threat. Rather than work their way out of trouble they quickly decide to raise funds by kidnapping their nemesis’ bratty son in the shape of Chris Pine.

And so begins a kidnapping caper filled with twists, turns, and attempts at humour. Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Aniston, and Kevin Spacey all pop up to reprise their roles from the first film as a miscellaneous criminal, sex-obsessed rapist, and murderous psychopath respectively. None are needed for the plot but all are essential to keep fans of the original from realising this isn’t the same film. Because that is the sense I got throughout the film; that it was doing its best to appease fans and then throwing enough random ideas at the screen to keep everyone distracted until it was all over.

Horrible Bosses 2 Still

The plot of Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t actually that of a comedy. The plot of kidnapping and double-crossing is not inherently funny, and certainly not funny in practise, so instead the hard work is left to Day, Bateman, and Sudeikis. The three actors are left to improvise and fill scenes with the jokes that the seven writers failed to put in themselves. The constant ad libbing means that every scene ends up feeling exactly the same as the leads talk over each other in a way that rapidly grates more and more each time. Any laughs that do come are thanks to the work of Charlie Day who plays the fool to the interchangeable straight man roles played by Bateman and Sudeikis. When your three main characters don’t have three distinct personalities you are in trouble.

When Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t hoping you will laugh at three straight white men it is using the casting of any actor outside of that demographic as a comedic device. All women were either sex objects or comedy foreign characters and I urge you to try finding a black man in the film that isn’t a criminal. Throw in some mildly homophobic dialogue and Horrible Bosses 2 can rest easy knowing it has managed to turn everyone into a stereotype worthy of denigration. Comedy like this simply shouldn’t exist any more and had me shifting in my seat in discomfort.

As you might have been able to tell by now I really did not enjoy Horrible Bosses 2. There were too many unscripted moments of uncontrolled ad libbing and not enough well crafted comedy. The questionable use of any character who wasn’t both white and male was indefensible. I laughed a few times thanks to Charlie Day but for the rest of the film I was cringing and even worse, a little bored.

Horrible Bosses 2 is in UK cinemas from 28th November 2014 and is to be avoided at all costs.

We’re the Millers – Film Review

We're the Millers

David (Jason Sudeikis) is a drug dealer with a problem. After all his drugs and money are stolen in a tame mugging that escalates bizarrely he is tasked with collecting a large amount of weed from Mexico and bringing it back to the US in order to settle his debts with a tonally jarring crime lord played by Ed Helms. In order to raise minimal suspicion as he crosses the border David hires himself a family in the form of unemployed stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), sweet but neglected Kenny (Will Poulter), and homeless teen Casey (Emma Roberts). The four travel to Mexico in a giant RV and surprisingly few hijinks ensue.

We’re the Millers opens with quite a dark, almost angry, tone with each of the four main characters leading miserable lives and the only laughs coming from the bleakness of their existence, snide asides at one another, and a general sneering attitude towards happy families or anyone with a decent job. You might think that this is a brave choice, that making an essentially joyless comedy might allow it to stand out amongst the general mediocrity of mainstream comedy, but instead it produces a comedy that makes you feel sad and a little bored rather than wanting to laugh out loud.

We're the Millers 1

The first third of the film is relatively uneventful as the Millers (as our faux-family like to be known) make it to Mexico and back with only minor set backs and with any conflict restricting to selfish bickering within the RV. Only once they have the characters back in America do the four (FOUR!!!) screenwriters realise that they need to conjure up some events to stop the film ending after 45 minutes and without anything going wrong. As such the film changes gears so forcibly it’s amazing it doesn’t break down like the Miller’s RV inevitably does (nice simile there).

Suddenly the Millers have driven from their slightly dull but pleasantly dark comedy into a road runner cartoon where a wrench to the face is only a minor inconvenience and any seemingly uptight couples are secretly looking to swing. Plot devices and characters are introduced one at a time to briefly amuse us before being discarded to make room for the next set piece to be awkwardly set up without any real flow in between. With a road trip comedy there is clearly too easy a temptation to essentially make a series of sketches tied together by a quartet of unlikable self-seekers. The result is a film that is far too long (110 minutes!!!), slightly incoherent, and nowhere near funny enough.

We're the Millers 2

I will excuse Will Poulter who played Kenny from my unlikable and unfunny branding as he somehow manages to make his slightly wet character the only sympathetic person on-screen and is the source of the film’s few real laughs. Yes the film had some laughs, and some of them were genuine too. Occasionally though I would find my companion laughing and then looking deeply ashamed at himself. Sometimes in a comedy you laugh because you feel you should, not because anything particularly funny is happening. A portion of the audience at our screening did enjoy the film and a rather well spoken older lady sat behind us did the classic laugh-and-clap at least once. (Pre-screening eavesdropping revealed that she is worried that her lodger has a drinking problem but that’s not for us to worry about now.)

The occasional laugh spread out over 110 minutes is not enough compensation from the sheer boredom the rest of the film brings. The cast do what they can but ultimately there isn’t enough film for them to hold together. Despite being genuinely unpleasant to one another throughout we are encouraged to buy into a sudden shift towards the end that has them seeing themselves as a real family. This conclusion is not justified by anything that precedes it and shows the writers’ complete lack of commitment to any characterisation they could previous have claimed to have achieved.

In summary: Good grief.

We’re the Millers is released in the UK on 23rd August 2013 and frankly you’ve got better things to be doing.

Epic – Film Review

Epic

Amanda Seyfried stars as M.K.; a young girl who has recently lost her mother (in typical children’s film style) and is forced to live with her wacky dad in the countryside. Her dad, played by Jason Sudeikis, believes that a civilisation of tiny people live in the forest by their house and spends his days searching for them. M.K. is naturally sceptical of her dad’s theory but when she chases her dog into the woods and ends up shrunk down and involved in an epic (THAT’S THE NAME OF THE MOVIE!!!) battle to claim power over the forest as she helps the Leafmen fight the rot-spreading Boggans as well as trying to return home and to her normal size.

Phew. Plot synopsised!

Epic 1

We were pleasantly surprised by Epic; it was a sweet and funny tale that didn’t overstay its welcome. The story was simple and didn’t stray too far from the classic animated film formula but was enjoyable nonetheless. The jokes were genuinely funny and stemmed from character rather than pop culture references (hello Shrek!) so the film has lasting appeal; the jokes will still be funny long after Britney Spears* is a distant memory. As we left my co-writer Kat said “that could have been a Pixar” which is high praise indeed, though perhaps not totally accurate. Certainly better than Cars* though…

Where Epic falls down is in its villains. Christoph Waltz lent his sinister tone to the leader of the Boggans and they were threatening enough but I wasn’t completely clear on why they wanted the whole forest to turn to rot. Sure they were evil, but why? Maybe they just got tired of Al Gore* harping on about the environment and decided to kill all the trees so he had nothing left to save.

Epic 2

Epic‘s strengths lie with the good guys. M.K. is a feisty female lead that may even pass the Bechdel test if talking to a queen played by Beyoncé Knowles about a genderless flower pod counts. She has a lighthearted romance with Leafman Nod, as played by Josh Hutcherson, and any time the film threatens to get too serious or more scary than its U certificate allows Aziz Ansari and Chris O’Dowd are on hand as a pair of amusing gastropods. Colin Farrell is also present as an older Leafman but he is taking the backseat in this film and does more disapproving than anything else.

Overall the film is a lot of fun and had us both chuckling away throughout. With half-term holidays coming up next week Epic could serve as a perfect distraction for any tiny people in your life. We would advise people to see it in 2D though, headaches and double vision are abound and the 3D adds to little more than your ticket price.

*Examples of out-dated pop culture references