Film Review: Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses is a fun comedy that entertains throughout. All is forgiven, Jennifer Aniston. Well almost all. Not The Bounty Hunter.

Friends Nick, Kurt and Dale all hate their bosses. Nick’s boss Dave has psychotic tendencies. Kurt’s new boss Bobby is a habitual drug user. Dale’s boss Julia makes unwanted sexual advances towards him on a daily basis. The trio contemplate killing their bosses, but things don’t go according to plan…

Horrible Bosses works very well as a 15-rated comedy. The humour is sometimes lewd but never descends too far into crassness. There are some very amusing site gags as well as a script that is punctuated with humour throughout. The comedy has a universal appeal. It is not too close to the bone as to offend people, yet there are some darkly humorous jokes.

Seth Gordon’s film is well paced, and provides some tension (although this is never without humour). Given the premise, the narrative seems quite predictable from the outset. Nevertheless, the film features a number of small twists, making it more difficult to predict the outcome. Horrible Bosses does some of the things expected of it, but subverts other elements.

Considering that there are several main characters, it is unsurprising that the film relies on stereotypes to a certain extent. The trio of friends are sufficiently developed and have a believable relationship. However, the screenwriters have made the bosses into caricatures. This may sound like a negative, but it reality it is not. Given the genre, these over-the-top characters are responsible for much of the film’s humour. The bosses are given the freedom to be as outlandish as possible, making them far worse than the average nasty employer. As well as creating humour, this gives credence to the murder plot.

Horrible Bosses boasts great performances from its stellar cast. Jason Bateman is as watchable as ever as Nick, playing the straight guy to the more comical friends. Jason Sudeikis is a lot of fun as Kurt, while Charlie Day once again shows off his comedy chops as Dale. Jamie Foxx is amusing in a small role.

As Dave, Kevin Spacey appears to be playing a more heighten version of himself. Colin Farrell is wildly amusing as Bobby, but is sadly underused. Jennifer Aniston is great as Julie. It is refreshing to see her in a different type of role, which goes some way to redeem her recent film choices. Aniston also seems to be having a lot of fun with her character.

Horrible Bosses is highly recommended for mainstream comedy fans. Although it is unlikely to win any awards, it should prove very enjoyable for audiences.

Horrible Bosses is out in UK cinemas on 22nd July 2011.

10 Things To Be Grateful For In 2010

As with most years, 2010 has offered us the good, the bad and the ugly. The following is a highly subjective list of some of the best things to come out of cinema this year. Feel free to add your own entries in the comments below.

1. The Return Of Michael Keaton

Following appearances in such cinematic classics as First Daughter, Michael Keaton spent a number of years in the land successful wide releases forgot. That changed in 2010, with a memorable role voicing Ken in the hugely successful Toy Story 3, and scene-stealing as Captain Gene Mauch in The Other Guys. Although the latter was not exactly the film of the year, Keaton raised the bar with a fantastic comic performance reminiscent of his glory days. This served as a timely reminder of his charisma and aptitude for comedy in Night Shift and Beetlejuice among others. Welcome back, Mr Keaton!

2. Warner Bros Greenlit Inception

Despite its box office success, Inception is a film that has divided critics and audiences. Love it or hate it, we should all be grateful that the studio greenlit the big-budget production in the first place. Based on an original screenplay, Inception was a refuge from the barrage of sequels, remakes, spin-offs and adaptations. Inception was a blockbuster that was engaging yet accessible. For the film, Warner Bros expended the kind of marketing strategy usually reserved for pre-sold entities. Given the healthy box office returns, the gamble certainly paid off. Hopefully Inception‘s success will give more studios the confidence to follow suit.

3. Disney Released A Traditionally Animated Feature

The Princess and the Frog (released in February 2010 in the UK) marked the first hand-drawn animation film from Disney since 2004. The past five years have seen no shortage in animated films; however these have tended to be of the computer generated variety. While features such as Up look fantastic, there is something quintessentially Disney about The Princess and the Frog. The beautiful animation harks back to the golden age of the early and mid-nineties, when each year would see a now classic Disney animated feature. Only time will tell whether The Princess and the Frog will be appraised in the same way as films such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. In the meantime, the film indicates at least some variety in Disney’s output.

4. Referencing The 1980s Is Still In Vogue

Certainly not a new trend for 2010, for a number of years now cinema has been harking back to the eighties. Be it long overdue sequels to 1980s hits (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), remakes or even choice of soundtrack, referencing that most magical of decades has been a fixture in Hollywood in recent years. 2010, however, may have pulled of a coup d’état with the gloriously nostalgic Hot Tub Time Machine. With an amazing soundtrack and a plethora of references to 1980s films, fashion and popular culture, Steve Pink’s film was the ultimate homage to the much-loved decade.

5. David Fincher Signed On To Direct A Film About Facebook

A film about the creation of social networking site Facebook sounded just about the most unappealing premise of the year. Interest was peaked when David Fincher was announced as director of the project in 2009, but many, like myself, remained unconvinced. All that changed when the film was released in October 2010. The Social Network was one of the most absorbing films of the year, brilliantly executed and visually handsome. A very welcome surprise.

6. Woody Allen Dusted Off A Script From The ’70s

Released in June 2010 in the UK, Whatever Works saw a return to form for prolific director Woody Allen. Based on his original script from the 1970s, Whatever Works featured all the hallmarks of a classic Allen feature; witty dialogue, well-written characters and the New York setting. The film served as a reminder of why Woody Allen is such a lauded filmmaker, and is reminiscent of some of his best-loved pictures of the 1970s and 1980s. Here’s hoping Allen has a few more scripts gathering dust in his attic.

7. Colin Firth Stepped Up His Game

A bastion of period drama and romantic comedies, in 2010 Colin Firth revealed his flair for more serious dramatic roles with two magnificent performances. Firth conveyed the aching tragedy of George in Tom Ford’s A Single Man (released in February 2010 in the UK), and was thoroughly convincing as George VI in The King’s Speech (screened at the London Film Festival in October 2010). Having won awards for A Single Man and already receiving nominations for The King’s Speech, these triumphs are almost enough for us to forget Mamma Mia. Almost.

8. Danny Boyle Produced One Of The Most Wince-Inducing Scenes In Film History

Collective squirming ensued in screenings throughout the world when Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours was released (screened at the London Film Festival in October 2010). Most viewers would have known what to expect, but the film excels in building tension right up until this point. The event itself was visceral enough to apparently induce vomiting and fainting amongst audience members. This may just have been good marketing, but what remains is one of the most memorable scenes of 2010.

9. The Bounty Hunter Was Released In March

Though it has faced some stiff competition, The Bounty Hunter was the worst film released this year. For an action comedy, The Bounty Hunter was painfully unfunny. Like a childhood trauma, time dulls the pain, although you never entirely forget.

10. Joe Dante Directed A ‘Family Horror’

The Hole (released September 2010 in the UK) may not be the greatest film of the year, but it was certainly one of the scariest. For a film with child protagonists and aimed at a family audience, the film was surprisingly frightening. The Hole played on the most primal of fears, which resulted in a film that was far more effective than many of the adult horrors released this year. Although The Hole has been rather overlooked in terms of critical acclaim, it is a must-see for horror aficionados.

Film Review: The Bounty Hunter

In The Bounty Hunter, Jennifer Aniston plays a career-obsessed journalist determined to get the scoop on the latest story. It’s a pity in real life Aniston does not pay as much attention to her career, otherwise she may not have opted for such a dud.

Though a regular fixture in the rom-com genre over the last decade, surely the actress receives scripts more promising than this. The Bounty Hunter does not work on any level. The film attempts to combine an action thriller with a romantic comedy, but fails on all accounts.

The main problem with The Bounty Hunter is that it is painfully unfunny. Whilst some lacklustre comedies may have only one or two humorous set-ups or jokes, this film does not have a single genuinely funny moment. Furthermore, the characters are one-dimensional; when the couple is in a somewhat perilous situation, it is hard to muster the effort to care.

The film is inevitably predictable, which wouldn’t be such a problem if the film had something else to offer. As it stands, The Bounty Hunter is the worst film of the year, so far.