Horrible Bosses 2: after the zany hijinx of trying to knock off their bosses, the gang try to start their own business to be their own bosses; even more hijinx ensues!!!lol!1! Most scenes seem to be the three central characters shouting over each other, becoming an incoherent babble of noise, with the odd silence for a scripted ‘funny’ to become audible. Spacey, Foxx, Waltz, Aniston, Pine – there’s some pretty big names in here; surprisingly big given the gutter level humour – so it goes without saying that nobody’s really putting that much effort in (Maybe just Pine?). Despite the lazy premise, inaudible din, and coasting cast I did still laugh, more than I thought I would – although it’s obviously because I’m a bad person that finds crass / inappropriate / shock value moments funny (there’s not a whole lot else in there that tickles the funny boner.). Literally identical write-up but overall marginally less impressive than the original in every way.
White House Down: a group of mercenaries storm the White House leaving an aspiring Secret Serviceman as the President’s – and America’s – only hope. They’ve only gone and made “Die Hard in the White House”, again! It’s easy to confuse this with Olympus has Fallen, but in a duel for the oval office this one wins hands-down, mostly due to the entertainment-factor; it’s the true embodiment of the term ‘action romp’. Everything that can do so, explodes during big set pieces that punctuate the movie, and is generously littered with laughs too – by the end I was even guilty of a few fist-pumps. I’d go as far as saying that it’s the kind of movie that – at least on paper – we should all hate: big, loud, dumb, derivative, but the director seems to know this, and fully embraces it – cheesing everything up to 11. The only real downside is that it’s a tad on the long side (for the kind of film it is). If you want a cheesy 80s/90s big-budget one-man-army taking on waves of despicable henchmen, look no further. Fly this DVD up your flagpoles, ‘MURICA!
Law Abiding Citizen (mild spoilers): when his wife and kid are murdered and the legal system fails him, a disgruntled everyman with nothing to lose spends years engineering his quasi-legal revenge. Gerrard Butler (Shut up, Butt wad), WTF are you doing man? You’re all over the place and why the fuck did your character get nude when you were arrested? The Fantastic Mr Foxx is OK, doing what he does (normal guy in a moral quandary) but his character’s role is unbelievably wonky: supposed to be a prosecutor, but does loads of detective work. The film starts off interesting – and the opening in particular is powerfully violent – the set-up is theatrically gruesome, but once Butler is in prison it turns absolutely ridiculous – and when you hear about his previous employment it’s like being slapped in the face with a big silly stick. However, it’s quite funny and enjoyable despite being so bizarrely cheesy and shockingly stupid. Deliberately 18-rated, over-the-top B-movie with an A-list cast.
Collateral: an LA cab driver becomes involved in several murders when fate makes his next fare a contract killer. The casting in the film is great: Jason Statham makes a brief appearance (was disappointed he didn’t resurface), Javier Bardem as a sleazy crooked nightclub owner, and Mark Ruffalo is unrecognisable as a cop (“No way, that dude sounds just like Ruffalo”). There are moments of truly great acting from both leads: Jamie Foxx as a bumbling, almost special / OCD cabbie and Tom Cruise as a stone-cold, experienced, remorseless killer. The entire film’s shot at night, and set over one evening, which gives it a creepy atmosphere and haunting vibe; quiet streets, empty buildings, dark alleys… the lighting, photography, and locations (empty LA is as much a character as anyone else) are all out of this world – although because it’s shot at night, on digital, with such a high ISO it looks very grainy. It all feels quite grounded and immediate during the movie, keeping a steady pace and having a lot of suspenseful moments, but the end leans towards a generic (albeit tense) action movie finale. My only major issue was that loads of things were hinted at, but never explained, particularly with Cruise’s character – is there any point in creating decades of backstory if all you get is a slight glance at the end of a murder? Collateral is a film every bit as polished, planned, sleek and exciting as you’d expect from Michael Mann, and pulls of the thankless task of being a character-driven action film with great ease.
Django Unchained: a German bounty hunter frees a slave, then partners up with him to make some cash and rescue his girl from a flamboyant plantation owner. As expected, Waltz absolutely steals the show with what’s essentially a re-write/reprise of his intelligent, oddly-humorous ‘Jew-hunter‘. Everyone else turns up and does their thing entertainingly enough. While the film pokes a lot of fun at the stupidity of racism (KKK mask scene & Sam Jacksons rant about Foxx sleeping in the house), for me the ‘N-Bomb’ is dropped far, far too often: which may have been accurate of the period, but it’s such a loaded word that drags the tone down – taking it way beyond any ‘light-hearted’ Blazing Saddles similarities. Clocking in at 2hr 45, it’s also far, far too drawn out, for such a simple revenge tale, especially once Dicaprio pops up: some scenes seem to go on forever with rambling, empty, dialogue and plodding shot after shot. While they’re all quintessential Tarantino scenes, it also suffers from his trademark lack of self-censorship. Finally, although, stylistically, most scenes are undeniably QT -and this isn’t really his fault – his style’s been ripped off so many times (funky music, uber-gore and back-and-forth dialogue) that it no longer packs the punch it once did. As a stand-alone film, Django Unchained is a decent film dragged down by its ‘epic’ runtime and the difficult task of balancing racism and comedy. It’s only when you step back and hold it up against a film like Inglorious – equally long, but crammed with great, tense and cinematic moments – that you realise how ordinary Django Unchained is.
Valentine’s Day: make-ups and break-ups are on the menu as a lot of famous people try to get lots of your bums on lots of seats. Genuinely, Ashton “Dude, where’s my talent?” Kutcher is so flat it’s like watching an inanimate object: a chair, a table, a wall – take your pick, they’d out-act him. It’s one of those lazy comedies that plays racial stereotypes for cheap comedy – including the classic ‘big black woman with an attitude’; obviously! For me, Queen Latifa is fast becoming my trusty hallmark for a shit film. The script must have been written by the Green Giant, it’s sooo corny (tedious, contrived and unrealistic dialogue) and the jokes are all poorly judged & timed. The only tolerable bits (limited to guys + lesbians) are Anne Hathaway in her scants, then talking on a phone-sex line!!! But it’s a PG sex-line though <SadFace>. Worse still, all of the best names – like Foxx – get the least time on screen, because they cost the most.
The Mrs and I braved an entire hour before we lost all faith in Hollywood, actors, integrity, humanity, the universe etc. Valentines day is cynical, insulting, money-grabbing and void of any entertainment. Whatever you do, do not watch this if you intend on some ‘adult sleeping’ afterwards, it will absolutely destroy your notions of love, and valentines day.
Alternative Plan: Early bed time.
Horrible Bosses: three friends are having major issues at work and decide it would be best if their bosses weren’t around any more… so they hire a ‘murder consultant’. The three bosses (Spacey, Aniston, Farrell) are all well cast and solid comedy characters. The three goons pull off the comedy of errors pretty well; albeit in a Hollywood shouty fashion, especially the little guy. However, it’s Jamie Foxx in the cameo role that and outshines and outfunnies everyone else put together with immaculate comedy timing. Worth noting that Aniston looks amazing, and gets to say some unbelievably filthy lines – ‘I fingered myself so hard I broke a nail’ – for the guys, this has been a looooong time coming! The majority of the jokes are consistent, and pretty funny, although mostly lowbrow crude/sex orientated – which is a shame as it had massive black comedy potential. It’s also well shot and has the advantage of being one of those films that everyone can relate to – who hasn’t had a boss that was a Psycho, Maneater or Tool at some point?! Horrible bosses is far better than it looks, and a contender with Bridesmaids for Comedy of the year.
Due Date: After both being put on the no fly list two polar opposites have to share a car across America to make it back in time for the arrival of a baby. The first half is like a gag machine gun, then they swap some of the joke time for more serious character development and curveball story points ’til the end. Being in 99% of the scenes both actors needed to be bang on the money, and they were. Downy Jr’s reprises several of his semi-likable borderline mad man roles, and Galifianakis has impeccable comedic timing, nailing a fleshed out version of Alan from the Hangover. While it’s funny the trailer reveals a lot of the good stuff, definitely reducing the impact of at least 1/2 the jokes – in saying that, there’s much more packed away in the film. The humour cover all bases too: slapstick, black, stoner, witty and gross-out – never thought I’d see a dog do that. A bit like Art Race there’s a ton of great shots of America from being on the road. While it’s not quite as good as the hangover, it’s the same mish-mash of comedy, fraternity, and crazy random events that will make it a similar hit. The final product is gag after gag threaded together with a believable and melodramatic relationship that works quite well – and in the end, it’s Just an all-round funny and watchable film.