Horrible Bosses 2 (R)

8 Stars

“Everybody’s a critic,” Bugs Bunny once said.

In this case (as in most), the hare’s correct.

Perhaps folks are disenchanted by franchised laughter.

The average rating amongst Top Critics (according to Rotten Tom) is a 4.5 out of 10.

Though the more accurate portrayal’s provided by the ‘user’ average: 7 stars.

It’s not due to a lack of proofreading that my score remains unaltered.

This author’s got a little something called integrity.

Therefore the rating stays at 8; implying it’s ‘great’, but perhaps not ‘tremendous.’

After all, 2014 is the year of the comedic sequel.

Anchorman 2 was released last December and largely satisfied.

The best comedic sequel of all time, 22 Jump Street came out in June.

The long awaited Dumb and Dumber To…wasn’t great.

Trepidatiously we await the follow-up to Hot Tub Time Machine on late February’s horizon.

Well, I say, “To hell with top critics!”

Horrible Bosses 2 more than satisfies.

Earning a coveted spot on Top Comedies of 2014 –
1. 22 Jump Street
2. Neighbors
3. The Interview
4. Let’s Be Cops
5. Horrible Bosses 2

It keeps you guessing while offering a persistent snicker.

The out-and-out laughs are numerous and frequent.

The plot is timely, clever and not too outrageous. A considerable amount of social commentary is interwoven.

Dare I say it’s thought-provoking?

Since viewing, I’ve ruminated on the panoramic time lapse and off-type car chase; so, there you have it. Thoughts provoked.

The cinematography, shooting and editing are really impressive.

As far as casting goes, this flick’s top-notch. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis are all fantastic.

Each lead is hilarious in his own individual way.

I’ll never understand why Bateman gets docked for his mastery as the ‘straight’ man. Plus, his Arrested Development version is more foolish softy.

Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxx return without disappointing.

Christoph Waltz delivers in a minor role.

Chris Pine, however, is terrific. He’s great in Into the Woods as well, so hopefully we’ll see more out of him in the future.

There’s a delightful blooper reel accompanying the rolling credits.

As well as a fun character montage directly preceding. Such cinematic sequences are becoming more prevalent. They’re enjoyable, informative and a welcome addition to any theatrical release.

Let’s call these bits ‘character reels.’ Best when featuring the character’s image paired with both names (role and actor).

Don’t be disappointed if you missed HB Deuce while in theaters.

For fans of the first, keep an eye on your streaming devices.

It’s available for pre-order through iTunes, but who’s really going to shell $19.99 for digital ownership on release date?

Wait for the rental.

It’ll be much cheaper and infinitely more satisfying.

The Zero Theorem (R)

5 Stars

Ever heard of Harry Potter?

This is nothing like that.

David Thewlis, also known as Professor Lupin, is the only similarity between the two narratives.

The Z.T.’s bleak, folks.

It’s dark, foreboding and existential. To follow a recent trend it’s also allegorical. Therefore, things can get confusing.

[Quick sidebar: Counting Snowpiercer this marks Tilda Swinton’s second supporting role in a sci-fi allegory in the past year. What an oddly specific niche.]

Should you see it?

It depends on your viewing habits. If you’re a movie review blogger, you can do a lot worse than The Zero Theorem.

But for the average viewer, I wouldn’t recommend. There are plenty of better options available for rental. Skim some of my earlier blog posts if you need suggestions.

The price bugs me.

If you’re still interested it’s available for HD rental thru Xfinity OnDemand, iTunes and Amazon for $9.99.

Ten bucks feels like too much.

Despite the straight to VOD release, The Z.T. is a lot more ambitious than the trailer lets on. The preview lead me to believe director Terry Gilliam mailed it in.

But alas!

This movie contains a lot of solid material.

Where else are you going to find a pink chaise lounge?

Portions of the environment are sources of great irritation and intrigue. But I suppose that’s the Terry Gilliam thing. Much of the physical setting is reminiscent of 12 Monkeys, another mind-bending dystopian movie involving time travel and paradoxes.

Z.T.‘s futuristic landscape is elaborate and compelling. The streets are covered with graffiti; digital advertisements and adhesive ‘tags’ plastered all over the alleyway.

I’d say The Zero Theorem‘s right on par with A Dozen Bonobos.

Although I haven’t seen Brazil, my favorite Gilliam is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Watch it instead if it’s eluded you thus far.

For those dead-set on catching Z.T. here’s a couple notes on the casting.

Christoph Waltz stars as Qohen, and never ceases to impress.

After major supporting roles in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, he plays a completely different character here.

From the cadence of his voice to the movement of his gaze, it’s obvious he works hard to differentiate himself between roles.

What a dynamite thespian – good on ya, Christoph!

Matt Damon plays a small supporting role as ‘Management,’ and he’s excellent.

So add another bullet to the long list of ‘Good Reasons to Adore Mr. D.’

David Thewlis and Tilda Swinton are great. Lucas Hedges is good.

But far and away my favorite character is Bainsley.

Mélanie Thierry delivers an awesome performance, particularly befitting the Gilliam modus operandi. She’s got that twittery futuristic spunk, the neon haired quirketude. Which sounds grating, but it’s actually quite cute and delightful.

Part of this is thanks to the writing. In order to fill out the futuristic world in a realistic fashion, screenwriters often utilize the cyberpunk diction. It’s an alien form of English, and often seems bizarre at first.

It works well here, particularly because of the acting.

Every once in a while Bainsley will say something like, “You got a mouse in your pocket?” her charisma reminding the viewer to notice the occasional warmth.

Despite the bleak premise.

There is a lot of social commentary buried throughout. Some of it is a bit on-the-nose, like the satirical news station, ‘Dumbc’ or some such silliness.

But the more subtle stuff can really bolster a scene. When Qohen first meets Bainsley, it’s jarring to see the partygoers ‘fake smoking.’ At first it seems like quirk for the sake of quirk.

These moments are a lot more nuanced than they appear, however.

During a later scene, Qohen is sitting on a park bench. The backdrop is a swarm of ‘No [Insert Fun Activity] Allowed’ signs.

The visual flood of placards is both an eyesore and quite a strong metaphor.

Terry seems to envision a future in which we’re plagued by bureaucratic overregulation.

Considering the recent discussion regarding the heroic San Franciscans and their unending skirmish against synthetic shopping totes, I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Gill.i.Am.

Finally, I really enjoyed the artificial reality. The blending of digital pornography and prostitution offers a compelling and original spin on the sci-fi construct.

By the by, it’s ironic considering Qohen’s pursuing an answer to the ultimate question.

But he can’t install a little bit of conduit?