Horrible Bosses: This is one of those “wow, people were really afraid of last week’s movie, huh?” weekends—even Harry Potter has a big action movie competing with it weekend after opening, but Transformers 3 scared off everything but the comedies. The more palatable-looking of the two is Horrible Bosses, the stupidly titled but vaguely amusing-looking R-rated comedy. I say “R-rated” all Entertainment Weekly style because this is the fourth R-rated wide-release comedy of the summer, with three more to follow in the coming weeks: Friends with Benefits, The Change-Up, and 30 Minutes or Less. This glut has left me a little confused. I’ll review the No Strings Attached/Friends with Benefits weirdness in a couple of weeks; in the meantime, while Horrible Bosses has an easy hook—more regular guy-ish character actors/comedians play the three harassed employees, while bigger stars Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, and Jennifer Aniston go wilder as the titular bosses—its ensemble overlaps with so many other R-rated comedies of the past year as to render it a little less clear than it should be.
Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day already played the raunchy best friends to Justin Long in Going the Distance; now they’re buddies with a put-upon Jason Bateman, not to be confused with the put-upon Bateman who will body-swap with Ryan Reynolds in The Change-Up. Sudeikis also went male bonding with Owen Wilson just half a year ago in Hall Pass, and Jamie Foxx turns up in a supporting role… sort of like how he did in Due Date last fall. Basically, you probably could’ve made half of Horrible Bosses with pre-existing footage of these guys swearing in bars. Director Seth Gordon was last seen squandering a similarly talented cast and relatable premise for the purposes of Four Christmases, but he did make that King of Kong documentary, and work on a bunch of Office episodes, so maybe without the Vince Vaughn domestication steamroller, he’ll make something snappier. If not, don’t worry—you’ll forget which middling R-rated comedy he made by the end of the month.
The Zookeeper: “The zookeeper, lady, call the zookeeper!” Anyone remember the Dustin Hoffman/Geena Davis movie Hero? Anyone? No? Ok then. In the weekend’s other big comedy, Kevin James plays a zookeeper whose unluckiness in love seems to somehow be chalked up to his station in life and not his Kevin Jamesiness; luckily, talking animals come to the rescue. Look, James appears to be a fairly dexterous physical comedian. But hey, Adam Sandler used to have an anarchic, oddball energy, until he made Happy Madison a brand-name of its own in laziness, faux-populism, and product placement (talking animals be damned; it’s the TGIFriday’s placement in the trailer that makes me cringe hardest). Happy Madison has taken ownership of James, so maybe it’s time to start waiting for a dark off-brand turn a la Punch-Drunk Love or Funny People.
The Ledge: If you, too, read the L Magazine review of this movie and thought it sounded too ridiculous to even consider seeing, rest assured: there is an entirely different thriller about a guy on a ledge coming in 2012: Man on a Ledge with, yes, Sam Worthington! And also Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris, and Jamie Bell. Despite having seen neither and knowing that the 2012 version stars Worthington, I’m going to have to go ahead and recommend it over The Ledge. Sorry, Liv Tyler’s breasts. You could’ve made this movie a sensation in a 1995 home-video release.
John Carpenter’s The Ward: Stewart’s L Mag review makes this JC joint sound about as disappointing as any other possessively named new movie from a supposedly great former horror auteur. But I’m considering seeing it, which was never really the case for John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars, and it doesn’t sound as awful as John Carpenter’s Vampires, so way to go, John Carpenter’s Occasional Disappointing Foray Back into Directing.