It’s a simple enough idea. Three friends with three fiendishly
terrible bosses let a little liquid courage help them down a dastardly
yet not all that surprising road: kill the bastards. And as ridiculous as the idea behind Horrible Bosses is as low-brow as much of the humor
is and as hard as it tries (and fails) to ground itself in real world
issues it still works. And when I say it works I mean it’s just really
At the film’s center we have Nick (Jason Bateman) Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) and their well horrible bosses: Dave
Harken (Kevin Spacey) Bobby Pellit (Colin Farrell) and Dr. Julia
Harris D.D.S. (Jennifer Aniston). In order for any of this potential
murdering to work the film has to truly vilify this trio of bosses and
on that token it succeeds almost too well. Spacey’s terrifying
psychopath of a boss isn’t exactly funny though he did make me want to
crawl under my seat and hide. Farrell’s cokehead kung-fu master is
probably the most surprising of the three though he doesn’t get nearly
enough screen time. And finally we find Aniston the woman who can’t
seem to shake the term “America’s Sweetheart ” as the insatiable
psychotic sexual deviant. I can’t say Aniston will be able to get away
with this sort of thing in the future but the shock factor of seeing
her flip her switch like this garners some laughs this time.
Of course none of this would work without our hapless heroes.
Bateman does his usual shctick as the loveable level-headed straightman
trying to keep himself afloat while the other two can’t seem to stay
out of trouble. Sudeikis brings his deep-voiced frat boy antics to the
screen and while they normally don’t do it for me Bateman and Day
balance him out. Of course when we get down to it Day is the one who
steals the film. He’s not exactly delivering the unbridled insanity
we’ve come to know and love on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but
that’s only because in this film he actually plays a normal functioning
human being. And when you combine Day’s signature spasms and raspy
high-pitched verbal fits with Aniston’s overdrawn predatory practices
you get a few bursts of hilarity however uncomfortable.
Finally we get a few chuckles out of Dean "MF" Jones
(Jamie Foxx) but the actor himself was completely wasted. The character
simply rests on the idea that we know Foxx as a personality outside of
the film -- much like Aniston’s character does -- rather than actually requiring
any legwork from such a capable onscreen presence.
But there's a little method to this madness; without this giant cast of talented major players the
script itself would likely fall a little flat. A few wayward jokes drag
it down including a desperate attempt to connect this workplace issue
to the financial crisis by including a former Lehman Brothers employee
rendered so desperate by his circumstances that he trolls Applebee’s
offering sexual favors. The movie succeeds as a superficial goofy
comedy – it really has no place trying to nudge its way into real world
Of course there’s one thing I find incredibly refreshing about the flick ; while it certainly has the typical trio formula – the straight
man the smartass and the nutjob – it gives all three equal billing.
Nick isn’t the main character and his two friends aren’t his sidekicks.
Director Seth Gordon opens the film with three segments of equal length
wherein each peg of our trio takes a moment to explain their own
personal slice of daily hell with a particularly hilarious brand of
explicit language before the film gets down to business. It makes Nick
Kurt and Dale a true trio and gives weight to each of their cartoonish
tribulations as the film's punctuated pace eventually descends into complete insanity.
You probably won’t add Horrible Bosses to your list of classic
comedies and it certainly doesn’t merit extensive praise but the bottom
line is that despite a few overreaching elements it’s just a
fast-paced outrageous hilarious summer comedy. And really with a film
like this that’s all we’re hoping for anyway.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
With a built-in rabid fan base from its five seasons on the Disney Channel it was only natural that Hannah Montana would find her way to theaters. And for the faithful it doesn’t disappoint. The plot for the movie version has Miley Stewart in over her head because her secret pop persona Hannah Montana is overwhelming every part of her life. When her father decides enough is enough and takes her back to their home town of Crowley Corners Tenn. she finds that it's not so easy to adjust again to country life. But with the help of some just plain folks and a budding romance Miley discovers there’s more to being successful than just show business fame and fortune.
WHO’S IN IT?
Miley Cyrus takes her wildly successful Hannah Montana persona to the movies fills it with heart and scores on the big screen. She’s sweet funny and beguiling in a role that of course fits her like a glove. With all or part of 13 songs and musical numbers she also proves her hit-making abilities are no fluke with standouts like a hip-hop hoedown and the emotive “The Climb ” which she socks home in a concert sequence near the end. Father Billy Ray Cyrus pretty much plays himself and seems comfortable in the role if nothing more. As her grandmother Margo Martindale is warm and always dispensing nuggets of advice. Lucas Till makes an awkwardly offbeat romantic interest as her childhood friend who sees the real Miley behind the Hannah mask and there’s nice support from Jason Earles as her brother and Emily Osment as a best friend. Vanessa Williams is also around bookending the film as Miley’s trusted protector and publicist. And look for quick cameos from Taylor Swift and Tyra Banks.
No one is going to win any Oscars but the Hannah Montana movie version goes down easy and makes a natural theatrical transition smartly returning the star to her country roots and giving the film a different flavor than the sitcom from which it emerged.
Like any homogenized Disney product it all seems a little too contrived and too pat at times but the enormous kid audience to whom it's aimed won’t care a bit.
They may be stealing one of the oldest gags in comedy but the dueling-dinners scene in which Miley and Hannah keep switching personas is amusingly played out and perfectly timed. Cyrus really gets to show her comic chops here.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
If you have a daughter it’s inevitably gonna be both.
Freshly scrubbed Cannon as L.A. cop Tre Stokes solves crimes alongside straight-shooting boss Cpt. Victor Delgado (Cheech Marin). Cannon investigates a prep-school student's murder by enrolling at the school. The too-simple set-up for this dullish fish-out-of-water film leads to a frantic aimless goose chase of comedy/action in the disappointing tradition of say Bird on a Wire. Cannon ingratiates himself with the popular dudes as the wise-cracking basketball stud. He also strikes bizarre chords as a would-be teen who romances one of his teachers (Chasing Papi's Roselyn Sanchez). But the suspense really takes form when Cannon stumbles upon a car-theft ring and a drug ring um on the school newspaper's Web site. He also discovers his grown-up self in the process.
Cannon's got poppy charisma as a smooth-talker. In a smarter comedy Cannon could do damage. But the jokes in Underclassman are so utterly defanged so throwaway they're the edgy equivalent of suburban doctor's office banter. Harmless racial jokes are thrown in for easy spice while groaner after groaner is set up like Wiffleballs on a tee. X-Men 3's Shawn Ashmore who plays basketball team captain Rob Donovan slaps on the precise amount of detestable pretty-boy-ness. Marin long ago completed the transformation from '70s stoner; in 2005 he plays the gruff police chief with no patience. Supporting actors know and play their roles in this all-the-way-around big-studio movie.
The Underclassman for its critical failure bops along like a pop rock in a glass of Coke for the ADD teen generation. Dialogue is kept mercifully short so scenes are as interesting as they can be. But the comic sensibility is so off that nearly all audiences will feel alienated out of touch with the lame one-liners. All the conventions of Another Teen Movie are here: the elitist exclusion by the popular kids; the "stay in school" messages; the banging rap music; a villain named "Murdoch." The only thing missing is Samuel L. Jackson saying "I came to teach boys and you became men."
January 30, 2004 2:33pm EST
Best friends David (Omarion) and Elgin (Marques Houston) earn a living dancing in competitions against rival dance crews in a local warehouse owned by Mr. Rad (Steve Harvey) who keeps the challenges clean and organized. Basking in their recurring success David and Elgin are approached by an Orange County crew for a dance-off with a bigger payday than they are accustomed to: $10 000. The only catch is that they would have to put up half that money in advance which they scrape up at the last minute thanks to Elgin's grandmother. But the OC crew plays dirty steals their moves and wins the competition leaving David and Elgin with a huge debt to repay. To come up with the dough they become runners for a local drug dealer--a job that doesn't pay off when Elgin gets robbed and beaten while transporting a large sum of money. He blames David for the attack since his buddy was too busy cozying up to his Princeton-bound sister Liyah (Jennifer Freeman) to have his back. Now the only way Elgin can repay his grandmother and the dealer is to win "The Big Bounce " an MTV-sponsored dance competition with a $50 000 purse. But Elgin and David's falling-out threatens their shot at the big time.
The majority of the cast in You Got Served are onetime members of the boy band B2K (an acronym for Boys For 2000) an R&B quartet that includes Lil' Fizz J-Boog Raz-B and Omarion. Houston a solo artist whose single "Smile" is included on the film's soundtrack is Omarion's older brother and with recurring role on UPN's Sister Sister is probably their only castmate with any real acting experience. That seems to have helped Houston however whose character Elgin has the most emotional range of the bunch: Sweet funny bitter angry and at times apologetic. His co-star Omarion goes over the top with the puppy-dog-face thing but let's face it teenage girls across America will swoon over just that. But despite some amateurish performances it is apparent that these heartthrobs did not take themselves or their roles too seriously and their lighthearted performances make their characters so darn likeable. More to the point the performances in this film depend more heavily on the dancing than the acting and in that department both Houston and Omarion thrive. The film also features Harvey in a demure role that doesn't do anything for the comic actor and cameo appearances from Lil' Kim and hottie Wade Robson. But the prize for the most irritating performance of all goes to MTV VJ LaLa who plays herself as "The Big Bounce" host and whose shrieky voice will have you scrounging in your pockets for aspirin.
Chris Stokes makes his directing and screenwriting debut with You Got Served and giving members of the B2K hip-hop ensemble starring roles makes sense; after all he was the band's manager. While this casting choice was weak in terms of acting it was a solid pick in terms of the film's dance theme not to mention fan fare. Although B2K split up last month the group still has a stranglehold over the young ladies. Besides it's a given that moviegoers aren't expecting great performances or a gripping tale from You Got Served just some awesome dancing which is where this film really delivers. Sure some scenes belong on the editing room floor especially one in which David and Elgin practice their latest moves shirtless in an alley at night during a rainstorm. But with dance sequences making up more than three-quarters of the film it still moves along at a fast pace and is surprisingly entertaining. The film's amateurism however rears its bopping head when scenes stray from these awe-inspiring dancing sequences. In these instances the dire acting skills of its young cast and the sappy dialogue become more obvious not to mention the director's overuse of fade-outs from scene to scene; you'll half be expecting a commercial break.