Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Releases: Horrible Bosses and Bad Teacher

This was a surprisingly apt double-feature, with lots of bad people doing bad things (killing your boss, smoking pot in the middle school parking lot, etc.) and lots of good people trying to get them to change their ways (by killing them or getting them arrested or falling in love with them).  Yeah, so one was kind of a romantic comedy and the others a bit more of a traditional comedy, they still had a lot in common.  

Horrible Bosses is a take-off on the Strangers on a Train concept where two unrelated people kill someone to help the other, thus removing the ties of motive.  It doesn't work quite as well in Horrible Bosses because the guys in it, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis, are all friends from high school.  So I had trouble overcoming the idea that they would ultimately be caught if they actually tried to kill each others bosses.  However, this is where the movie becomes a comedy, and Strangers was made by Hitchcock - you don't need to believe they'll get away with anything because of course they will.  There were quite a few moments I laughed out loud, and for originality alone, I'd give this movie praise.  

Kevin Spacey is Bateman's horrible, selfish boss who takes Bateman's promotion for himself.  He plays a shmuck really well and is easy to hate.  Colin Farrell is the coke-head son of Sudeikis' boss Donald Sutherland.  When Sutherland dies, Farrell is in charge and wants to fire all the fat people.  The movie does a good job showing that Jennifer Aniston's serious sexual harassment of Day isn't in fact funny and what all men secretly want, but she's still probably the funniest (and most bizarre) of the horrible bosses.  They eventually find solutions to all their problems, but in pretty creative and funny ways.  Listen to the Jason Batemen episode of Reel Insight to hear more about Bateman's character in particular.  3.5 of 5 stars/lambs

Bad Teacher, however, doesn't attempt to be quite as original, ironically since it's not based on another movie.  However, it's still a funny movie.  Cameron Diaz is a middle school teacher who intends to marry rich and quit after one year.  The marriage falls through (he figures out what her real motives are) and she has to return to teaching.  She has no actual interest in educating the middle school class and shows movies for weeks.  A new teacher, Justin Timberlake, shows up and she knows he must come from money (though other than an expensive watch they don't explore his wealth at all) and thus she wants to pursue him.  His old girlfriend had big tits so Diaz (in the infinite wisdom of this odd character) decides she too must get big tits.  She saves up for it, and when she finds out the teacher whose students test the best gets extra money she decides she can start teaching and win the bonus.  Since she's basically immoral, she steals the questions (though we don't know if she actually uses them).  Meanwhile, the gym teacher, Jason Segel, has been getting to know her better (but he's poor so she's not interested) and of course has more chemistry with her than Timberlake.  Since this is a romantic comedy, they eventually end up together.  

The longer its been since I've seen this, the less I actually like it, but I remember really enjoying watching it.  Watching Diaz torture her fellow teacher, Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch - Hattie from Ella Enchanted) is worth the price of admission.  And Phyllis Smith (Phyllis from "The Office") is terrific as another teacher who is actually interested in being Diaz' friend, but doesn't want to be a bad teacher.  Watching her waffle when Diaz proposes skipping meetings is hysterical.  Overall, it's a fun movie, but I guess Diaz' character is just irredeemable and doesn't have a great arc, but the movie does.  3 of 5 star/lambs


Buttercup said...

I was pretty sure "Horrible Bosses" was for me and you've made it a solid yes. I think it's just right for this weekend.

Nick said...

Funny. I think you enjoyed Horrible Bosses slightly less than me and Bad Teacher slightly more.

Dan O. said...

To be honest I think both films had so much more potential then what they gave off but both made me chuckle just not like I was expecting. Good Reviews!

Jess said...

Buttercup - I think it would really tickle you.
Nick- I think you nailed it.
Dan O - I think the fact that they were good in spite of my expectatiOns not being realizedade them fun.