Horrible Bosses 2

 

Horrible Bosses 2 reminds me of a Saturday Night Live bit that fizzles. HB2, like those misfired SNL sketches, has a ridiculous setup and plot, actors you like who are wasting their talents and a handful of chuckles that make it almost palatable.

When you’re watching SNL, you hang in because you know the bit that’s dying will be over soon. With Horrible Bosses 2, you keep waiting for it to get better and hating yourself for having chosen to watch it.

Here’s the setup: After plotting to kill their bosses in the 2011 Horrible Bosses, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have decided to start their own company so they won’t have to deal with bad bosses again.

They develop a product called the Shower Buddy. They show it off on TV. The bit features a visual sexual joke that was done much better in the Austin Powers movies. The TV host (Keegan Michael-Kay) is stunned by the name of their company which sounds like a slur: Nick-Kurt-Dale.

After Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son Rex (Chris Pine) back out of a deal to buy all their Shower Buddys, the trio decide to take drastic action. Here’s where the plot, which centers on kidnapping, becomes ludicrous.

Part of the scheme involves breaking into Julia Harris’s (Jennifer Aniston) to steal laughing gas. As the break-in is underway, she shows up to conduct a sexual addiction self-help group. The hilarity here is minimal, as it is throughout much of the film. (If you enjoyed hearing Aniston talk dirty in the first film, there’s more for you here in HB2. I’m not a prude but I felt kind of embarrassed for her.)

Also in the film is Kevin Spacey, as a horrible boss now incarcerated for crimes committed in the first film. When the trio visits him in prison for business advice, he provides a laugh or two with his profane putdowns. Jamie Foxx plays a hood who participates in the kidnapping.

Honestly, I found the outtakes at the end of the film to be the funniest part of Horrible Bosses 2.

Before you put down good money to see Horrible Bosses 2, take a moment to consider what else is available at your local movie house. There are better options. (Scroll down through this review site for a few good suggestions.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim throws bigger-than-life robot/monster battles and a good mix of human characters at moviegoers and keeps it all PG-13. Grab a tub of popcorn, slap on your 3-D glasses and hang on for the ride.

Despite being derivative on many levels, Pacific Rim somehow feels fresh—not unlike certain musical acts that combine familiar influences to bring output that sounds new. The effects are impressive. The monsters are enormous. Unlike the mid-20th century Japanese film monsters that moved haltingly, movement in Pacific Rim is smooth and fast. The bots are gigantic. They, too, move well, though a bit more deliberately.

Is Pacific Rim just a new spin on the Transformers movies? No. Despite the audio similarities (abundant metal clangs) and a dependence on spectacular robots, Pacific Rim tells a better story. Director Guillermo Toro (of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth fame) has crafted a film that’s entertaining visually and has a decent narrative.

Along with the old Japanese monster movies and the Transformers films, my son, a huge anime fan, notes many similarities between Pacific Rim and the Evangelion series.

Rather than build up gradually to the first look at the huge kaiju monsters, Pacific Rim jumps into action immediately. The world’s nations unite to fight them. Turns out the best way to do it is with giant robots called Jaegers, controlled from within by humans. (My mother-in-law informs me that the word “jaeger” is German for “hunter.”) Because the job is so daunting, the bots require two people to guide them. Partners must do a sort of mind meld (they call it a “drift”) with one another, so as to assure they are simpatico.

Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) bails on the bot gig after his brother/partner is killed in a kaiju battle. Five years later, world leaders decide fighting kaiju with Jaegers is futile. (Their new strategy is building large walls along coastlines.) The battle bot boss, known as “Marshall” (Idris Elba), has stashed the last few remaining Jaegers in Hong Kong and brings Becket back for the final assault on the kaiju.

Hong Kong introduces new characters into the mix, including Mako Mori (Rinko Kiruchi) as Becket’s eventual robot mate, geeky kaiju researcher Dr. Newton Geizler (Charlie Day) and kaiju body parts harvester Hannibal Chau (Ron Perlman). The sexual tension between Becket and Mori is instant. Mori’s backstory (shown frighteningly by Mana Ashida as a young Mori) complicates their relationship.

The final faceoff with between the kaiju and the Jaegers is fought underwater, deep in the Pacific. You might be able to guess the final outcome.

Should Pacific Rim become a hit—without a single bankable Hollywood star, by the way—I would speculate that more previously undetected kaiju might suddenly emerge from the depths. And a sequel might emerge from Legendary and Warner Brothers. Stay tuned.