Colossal, about a drunken dead-ender who discovers she has become an unwitting remote control for a massive horned monstrosity, is a film at war with itself. On the one hand, the spectacularly strange conceit prompts a delicious revision of the monster movie genre. Still, the potential novelty fails to take flight, making Colossal both too strange for mainstream audiences who typically buy tickets for monsters bashing each other movies and not really strange enough to satisfy audiences hoping for something truly nutty. Read More
*This is a reprint of our 2015 Sundance review
Leslye Headland arrived on the cinematic scene in a roundabout kind of way. Her debut film Bachelorette divided audiences – Reelview’s James Berardinelli gave it zero stars and labeled it “the worst movie of 2012” (we gave it a soaring review) – though it’s gone on to achieve a quiet cult status. Originally written as a screenplay then adapted for the stage, her raunchy theatrical production was discovered, altered back into movie form and green lit with an inspired cast (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson.) The outcome was a lewd female Hangover bursting with genuine laughs. In 2013, Headland got back on the horse for a new project, one that she just described as “When Harry Met Sally with assholes.” And so came Sleeping With Other People, a satirically formulaic though gravely side-splitting whooper. Read More
Leslye Headland arrived on the cinematic scene in a roundabout kind of way. Her debut film Bachelorette divided audiences -Reelview’s James Berardinelli gave it zero stars and labeled it “the worst movie of 2012” (we gave it a soaring review) though it’s gone on to achieve a quiet cult status. Originally written as a screenplay then adapted for the stage, her raunchy theatrical production was discovered, altered back into movie form and green lit with an inspired cast (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson.) The outcome was a lewd female Hangover bursting with genuine laughs. In 2013, Headland got back on the horse for a new project, one that she just described as “When Harry Met Sally with assholes.” And so came Sleeping With Other People, a satirically formulaic though gravely side-splitting whooper.
Those fond of indie-leaning contemporary relationship fare will find Headland malting her sugary goodness in a salty brine. Fans of You’re the Worst will find many parallels to FX’s underrated and desperately sarcastic rom-com. Hence the whole “with assholes” sentiment. Tossing up a 21st century mentality on sexuality, Sleeping With Other People – as its name implies – is about the loose mortality of the modern man as sex predator and the childlike, pissy murkiness of the dating pool. Squaring two flawed-in-a-charming-way rubes against one another, Headland deliberates but decidedly chooses to hem just far enough from the commercially successful star-studded rom coms of box office trumpings. Her vision is much seedier and much more real for it.
Jason Sudeikis stars opposite Alison Brie as a pair of sexually incomplete post-Millennials who lost their virginity to one another 12 years back. The fateful teeth of serendipity strike as they come to head at a sex addicts anonymous meeting. Rather than lunge at each other’s genitals like venereal tigers, they fall into an all-consuming friendship, pledging to stay as Platonic as “Symposium” and totally not bone each other. Complications arise.
As a womanizer of the most severe degree, Jake (Sudeikis) is a conquistador of panties flagging his way through New York like a Minesweeper pro. But his sights are immovably squared on Lainey (Brie), who herself is struggling from a serious case of unwarranted love addition. Her mark: the perennially boring Matthew Sobvechik (Adam Scott.) Jealousy, that fickle mare, rears her head but Headland knows how to tame it into hilarious and heartwarming shapes.
Lines between friendship and relationship become palpably blurred – a fact that circumstantial BFF Xander (Jason Mantzoukas) is happy to point out – as Jake and Lainey fall deeper into their nonphysical courtship. For all the sex that they’re not having though, the film is gooey with sexual situations and genuinely side-splitting carnal talks. Sudeikis performing a “rude DJ” lesson on a Green Tea bottle is the peak of Headland’s sardonic raunch.
Natural chemistry between Brie and Sudeikis makes their jabs and mounting affection land all the more. As the third act runs, Headland proves a storytelling tease; her will-they-or-won’t-they battleground threatens to come to a standstill as she holds her characters back from one another like rabid dogs on chains. It’s a rare occasion that I find myself rooting for an onscreen romantic comedy couple but Headland turned me to putty in her emotionally manipulative, relationship-calloused hands.
A comedy sequel that slam-dunks over its predecessor, Horrible Bosses 2 is a sardonic, infantile laugh riot. Joke for joke, it’s more meaty than the 2011 original. The characters are churned up and the window dressings turned down. This has one and only one purpose: to make you laugh.
After decidedly not killing their bosses, Nick, Kurt and Dale have since gone into business for themselves, inventing a product known as the “Shower Buddy.” Their sudsy SkyMall idea lands them a spot on the nightly news (an appearance they accidentally botch with silhouetted sexual references) but not before production baron Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) notices opportunity.
After ordering thousands of units of the American made all-in-one shower companion, Hanson pulls the plug on NickKurtDale.com (don’t try to say it fast) assuming the company will collapse and he can buy their already manufactured goods for pennies on the dollar. Considering their background in amateur crime, the sloppy trio decide to take matters into their own hands and respond with a kidnapping scheme to bargain Hanson’s son Rex (Chris Pine) to cover their lost capital. Hilarity ensues.
Reviewing comedy is a fickle game and one given over largely to subjectivity but for me, the comedy here really works, improving on a formula that looked better on paper than it actually was the first time around. Horrible Bosses 2 delivers on that promise of unabashed retardation. The first film was a half rack of ribs, occasionally tasty but built on chalky bones, while this is pure brisket; a tenderer cut that trims the fat and leaves just the jokes. The dead air has been filled with sweat, nicknames, non-sequitor and flagrant exaggeration. The archetypes are racketed up well past the point of normalcy and from Kevin Spacey‘s left ear diamond earring to Jamie Foxx‘s Motherfucker Jones penchant for chewing on slurpee straws to Charlie Day‘s perma-coked out mania, the energy of the group is solidified in a sense of juvenile glee nothing short of infectious.
The main triptych were happy-go-lucky, fairly straight-laced dudes with a little bit of quirk but now their idiosyrnacies have been turned up to cable-network extreme. Jason Bateman is even more of a cowardly, self-righteous asshole. Jason Sudeikis drips numbness while pumping out a stream of off-putting sexual energy. Charlie Day is more, well, Charlie Dayish; his nervous energy and sweaty antics broadcast in all its kooky crack-baby glory. It’s the noisy, chaotic, dummy humor of It’s Always Sunny; the calculated misanthropy of dumb dudes doing dumb deeds.
Yes, Jennifer Aniston and her carnal explicitness busted my gut. Pine proved (yet again) that maybe comedy is what he was made for. And Day, Bateman and Sudeikis are all right on the money. It was a solution of funny people doing funny things and it had me laughing the whole way through. That’s not to say that what worked for me will necessarily work for you though. In fact, many will likely be put off by Horrible Bosses 2‘s short-order comedy. For me though, it’s one of the best studio comedies of the year; a hearty step up from their first outing and a nearly laugh a minute affair. Bring on number three.
Is Hollywood so unimaginative that it has to rehash an idea as simple as Horrible Bosses? Even after lackluster numbers, it appears that the 2011 comedy will attempt to flower into a franchise after all. Confirmed to play a new horrible boss/father-son duo are Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis will reprise their roles as the extremely unlucky guys who just can’t seem to find a good boss, a feat proven tricky when you’ve attempted to murder your last bosses.
What else is there to say about Christoph Waltz? He can do no wrong. One can imagine that he is swimming in scripts for better movies than this, so it must be okay. Right? Chris Pine has also proven to be pretty solid talent lately and it will be interesting to see how he handles a comedic role. The few comedic moments in the new Star Trek films were well executed by him.
Hopefully they don’t go the route taken by Hangover 2 and do the exact plot again. However, it’s difficult to imagine a much broader scope when the film is called Horrible Bosses. You pretty much know what you are in for.
I am currently working on the third film in the series, where the protagonists work in a Chinese factory and commit suicide after 2 hours of existential pondering and hopelessness. At least that’d be something new.
Horrible Bosses 2 is directed by Sean Anders and stars Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz. It hits theaters on November 28, 2014.