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Movie Of The Week: Horrible Bosses

Much to the chagrin of readers I opted not to make Zookeeper the movie of the week.  I have already said all that I can say about Kevin James when I called him the worst movie maker in Hollywood.  So this week I saw Horrible Bosses.  I left feeling like I did when I saw Tropic Thunder.  There were many funny lines and moments, but at the end I just felt like I hadn’t seen a very good movie, but rather a collection of funny lines (so I guess the screen writers still get solid credit).  Moreover, the film feels like a movie made in an alternative universe: a universe where Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis went back in a time machine to about 5 years ago and murdered Luke Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Dane Cook, respectively, and took their places in a movie they were destined to make.

They have a plan - they are going to go back in time and murder the three men who were most likely to play these roles 5 years ago.

The movie’s plot is fairly simple.  The three main characters have awful bosses who range from evil (Kevin Spacey) to sleazy (Colin Farrell – very funny in limited time) and the excessively hot and manipulative (Jennifer Aniston).  They agree to murder their bosses for each other, while being “coached” along by murder consultant Motherfu*ker Jones (Jamie Foxx) – they got more laughs out of me from that name then I am proud to admit.  Goofiness ensues and it is wrapped up neatly in the end (which is becoming the trend in comedies now – rather than allow a plot to develop naturally and have to write an additional 15 minutes, recent comedies seem to just have something extremely convenient occur with five minutes left so the movie can end.  Bad Teacher felt the same way).  But what I really found fascinating is how the stars of this movie, especially Bateman and Sudekis have rendered their immediate predecessors in Hollywood (Luke Wilson and Dane Cook) wholly irrelevant by being better versions of those guys.

Jason Bateman a/k/a/ R.I.P Luke Wilson

Ever since his comeback in Arrested Development, a/k/a greatest television comedy of all time, Jason Bateman has proven how funny the straight man can actually be.  While being the foil for wackier characters in both the show and subsequent movies, he has proven that the straight man can sometimes be the funniest guy in a scene, not just the victim of funnier people.  Which is why he is a huge improvement over Owen Wilson, who, most famously in Old School, played the funny straight man, simply because he was the straight man.  He had to do no heavy lifting with Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell doing all the crazy work.  But Bateman has changed the straight man role – rather than be a QB that just manages the comedy game, like Wilson, Bateman is both a game manager and a playmaker.  Sorry Luke.

Done.

Jason Sudekis a/k/a a Midwestern Dane Cook with more range

A friend of mine had recently sent me a text making some comparison between Dane Cook and Jason Sudekis.  It was not very complimentary and I did not understand the association.  But while watching Horrible Bosses I realized that Sudekis is literally a bigger Dane Cook.  Sudekis, who I believe is from Kansas, literally comes off as the larger, Midwestern cousin of Dane Cook.  And sadly, for Dane Cook – he is having a lot more success.  The thing is Sudekis can play the guy who is sort of a goober (Hall Pass) or a semi-ladies man (Horrible Bosses).  Cook came in like gangbusters with roles as the “cool guy” because Hollywood forgot to tell him that handsome and cool in comedy is a lot different than handsome and cool in Hollywood.  And bonus –  Sudekis probably has someone advising him to not to make five shitty movies in a row if he wants to have longevity.

Less cool, better choices and more success and he'd be Jason Sudekis.

I think the only hope for Wilson and Cook is that they can become the Josh Lucases to Bateman and Sudekis’ Matthew McConaughey.

So the movie is solid because of the decent number of laughs, but by no means spectacular.  If you catch a matinee you’ll get your money’s worth.

Final Grade – B

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My Ten Favorite Things From 2009

No movies made this list (but I have already given you my Top Ten of the Year, so they don’t really need another platform anyway).  Not everything is from this year, but they were read, viewed, worn or observed by me this year.

10. Fred Armisen.  In a year that had some ups and downs, he represented both.  He gave what is the least funny impression ever on Saturday Night Live and he did it week after week.  To quote Forrest Whitaker’s character from The Shield, “It’s like he is pissing in my mouth!”  But the bright side of that is that one year in there is still a void for a decent Obama impression.  If ever there was hope for me in 2010…

You give me hope Fred Armisen.  Hope that SNL will change who does Obama.
You give me hope Fred Armisen. Hope that SNL will change who does Obama.

9. Arrested Development – I know this show is older, but I watched the first three seasons on Netflix this year and it is the funniest multi-season show I have ever seen (important distinction hint hint).  If you have not seen it, you should.

8. Laid Off/Full Time Comedian

According to my biopic script:

I walked out from the law firm that had crushed my soul with a defiant stride knowing that although I was taking a risk pursuing comedy full time I had the confidence of knowing that I would follow my dream and in the end be a success.  I was also touched by the slow clap I received from all my co-workers as I left on my last day.

According to reality:

I planned on going to do comedy full time in 2009 at some point, but given the economic climate and the generally good feeling of a swollen bank account (from a pretty nice place to work as law firms go) I probably needed the push, or shove, of being laid off to pursue comedy full time.  Now my dream still feels attainable, but is starting to resemble a bad acid trip as much as it does a dream on its way to fulfillment.

7. Steeler Super Bowl – This was cool because it was a great game and washed away memories of the only Super Bowl the Steelers had won in my lifetime – Super Bowl XL (40), which was the worst Super Bowl ever played.  I also cannot put the Yankees title on here, because although I like many of the players, something about that victory felt like cheering Goldman Sachs’ bankers when they date rape your daughter and your pension fund.  Of course the Steelers did not help themselves with their “ni-ger” shouting fans this season, but perhaps a poor season will be their punishment for having racist fans.

6. Obama’s Inauguration/Nixonland – Such a cool moment when Obama was inaugurated.  Even cooler was being able to predict how half of America would turn on him as soon as they could and how his young supporters would realize that politics is work and detail and compromise and not a pop culture reality show called For The Love of Obama on VH1.  I always bet on old people in the long term in politics and in 2010 the book Nixonland will prove quite prescient when the Republicans break through the 60 voting block in the Senate and win about 30 seats back in the House.  If you like politics or just want to predict the 2010 election read Nixonland.  But January 20, 2009 was still a great day.  The country was divided on September 10, 2001 and after 9/11 the country rallied around Bush (91% approval, after being dismally low before).  Do you think if the same happened today the country would rally around its President?  I am guessing not.

5. The West Wing – Watched the entire seven seasons on DVD in 5 weeks.  The greatest dramatic series I have ever watched not named The Wire.  Sorry The Sopranos I think you’re great as well, but the detail and the writing of The West Wing was intimidating in its brilliance.

4. New York’s Funniest Comedian – I am still waiting for an e-mail response(to a very politely and respectfully worded e-mail) from a certain comedy club as to why I never got a call back, despite being promised a spot in a showcase and simultaneously being denied a chance to audition because it was unnecessary.  This moment was a low point in my comedy naivete, but also a wake up call that was invaluable.  That is not to say that 40 years from now when I am sitting a lone in a mansion, miserably counting my money in the dark, that I won’t assault, with a bowling pin, some booker or manager or assistant sycophant who shows up to my home.  That reminds me, I think my next CD will be entitled “I’m Finished!”

Sure I will do your show.  But first you have to tell me that bringers and cattle calls are bullsh*t and that you have made false promises.
Sure I will do your show. But first you have to tell me that bringers and cattle calls are bullsh*t and that you have made false promises.

3. The Bonfire of the Vanities – The most enjoyable piece of fiction I have ever read.  Did for novel writing what The West Wing did for me in terms of television.  As Salieri said of Mozart’s music in Amadeus, “Remove one note and there would be diminishment.” That is how I felt about every sentence of this 600+ page novel, which is just as relevant today as it was 22 years ago.  Just don’t see the movie before or after reading it. 

2. Paul Millsap Jersey – I received this gift Christmas 2008, but I did not wear it until this hoops season.  If it’s the thought that counts, then I have never received a better gift in my life.  And I seem to be the only person outside of Utah to possess one, which makes it even more exceptional if you consider things in Utah fashionable. 

The jersey may look ugly to you, but when I got it as a present it made me very happy.
The jersey may look ugly to you, but when I got it as a present it made me very happy.

1. Eastbound and Down – So this is the answer to the question what could be better than great literature, historic national elections, pursuing your dream or seeing your team win a title?  That’s right – a fu-king redneck.  If Eastbound and Down ended after only these 6 episodes it would be like Guns N Roses dying after releasing Appetite For Destruction – a perfect debut to live on forever.  So apologies to my girlfriend, Barack Obama, Tom Wolfe, Jason Bateman, The Steelers, stand up comedy, and everything else that went on this year, but my favorite thing this year was a foul mouthed racist pitcher form Shelby, North Carolina – Mr. Kenny Powers.

And feel free to support Kenny Powers with a Kenny Powers jersey: Kenny Powers Jersey

2009 was your motherfu-kin' year Kenny Powers.
2009 was your motherfu-kin' year Kenny Powers.

Have a Happy New Year readers and fans.  All 6 of you.