Reviews New Movies Opening July 22nd 2011

This weeks movies reviewed by Paul Byrne, including Pixar’s CARS 2 & HORRIBLE BOSSES



Directed by Seth Gordon. Starring Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell, Charlie Day, Donald Sutherland, Kevin Spacey.

THE PLOT: Bateman plays Nick Hendricks, patiently doing just about everything and anything his cruel boss (Spacey, in full Swimming With Sharks mode) desires in the belief that he’s about to be promoted. Day (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) is the dental assistant suffering from Brad Pitt Fever – he just doesn’t find his boss, Jennifer Aniston’s Julia, sexually attractive, despite her many desperate come-ons. Rounding out the trio of buddies who decide a dead boss is better than a nasty one is Sudeikis’ Kurt, having trouble getting over the death of his beloved boss (Sutherland) and the rise to the top of his coke-addled, hooker-banging son (Farrell, in full Les Grossman mode, complete with potbelly and nasty comb-over).

THE VERDICT: Horrible Bosses is a horrible movie, a crass, stupid and desperate gross-out affair that aims for The Hangover and lands somewhere closer to Top Gear Meets Scooby Doo. Sure, there’s a tingle of giddiness to be found in Jennifer Aniston uttering such phrases as “You’re going to fuck my slutty little mouth”, but this is one long dirty joke that soon wears thin. The fact that it’s also riddled with dead movie stars – Jamie Foxx, Ioan Gruffudd, the sleazy Spacey, even our own Mr. Farrell – gives Horrible Bosses the same smell of post-sell-by-date desperation that dragged Bad Teacher down. RATING: 2/5


CARS 2 (USA/G/112mins)

Directed by John Lasseter, Brad Lewis. Starring the voices of Owen Wilson, Larry The Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro.

THE PLOT: Pixar’s revved-up sequel sees Nascar pin-up Lightning McQueen (voiced by Wilson) being challenged to a globe-trotting World Grand Prix showdown by the arrogant Italian Formula 1 champ Francesco Bernoulli (Turturro, clearly channeling his sleazy, arrogant Jesus Quintana from The Big Lebowski).

And so it is that Lightning takes his Radiator Springs buddy, Mater (Larry The Cable Guy), with him to Tokyo, London and Monte Carlo. Only trouble is, country hick Mater soon proves an embarrassment to Lightning. When he’s not busy being The Truck Who Knew Too Little that is, the dopey tow-truck having gotten himself tied up in an international espionage caper alongside Finn McMissile (Caine) and his sidekick, Holley Shiftwell (Mortimer).

THE VERDICT: It’s hardly surprising that this is the first Pixar release to get a kicking from the critics, Cars 2 scoring a mere 35% on The 2006 original made the least of all the Pixar movies, scoring $461.9m at the box-office, but it did make the most of any single movie when it came to merchandising – $10b, according to the LA Times. So, coupled with the fact that the Cars movies are directed squarely at kids, the critics weren’t about to take another dose lying down. Truth be told, this is a better movie than that first Capra-esque outing, spoofing the spy genre with gusto. It’s Pixar’s Magical Mystery Tour, the one that doesn’t quite live up to the others. But it’s still Pixar. RATING: 3/5

BEGINNERS (USA/15A/104mins)

Directed by Mike Mills. Starring Christopher Plummer, Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller.

THE PLOT: As graphic artist Oliver tidies up the affairs and belongings of his late father, Hal (Plummer), we flashback to pop’s coming out – at the age of 75. Hal’s sudden open lust for the gay life shocks his son, who is forced to look back through his childhood perception of his parents’ sexual relationship. As the lonely and dazed Oliver prepares a new project – entitled, eh, The History Of Sadness – he meets the freewheelin’ French actress Anna (Laurent), their tentative courtship in stark contrast to Hal’s enthusiastic love affair with the much younger Andy (Visnjic).

THE VERDICT: Writer/director Mike Mills has delivered a semi-autobiographical tale here as the follow-up to 2005’s highly acclaimed Thumbsucker, the emotional core of his story hampered somewhat by an overly quirky delivery. Oliver’s flatmate, Arthur, gives him plenty of advice when it comes to matters of the head and heart. Only trouble is, Arthur is a Jack Russell terrier. It’s that kind of movie. Laurent is perfectly French and actorly as Anna – which shouldn’t be too difficult, given that she’s French, and an actor – whilst Plummer continues his miraculous late blooming after star turns in The Last Station, Up and The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus. Which leaves us with the 21st century’s answer to Troy McClure, the grinning, gurning McGregor delivering yet another self-conscious, Jim-Fixed-It-For-Me performance. RATING: 2/5


THE BIG PICTURE (France/15A/115mins)

Directed by Eric Lartigau. Starring Roman Duris, Marina Fois, Niels Arestrup, Branka Katic, Catherine Deneuve.

THE PLOT: Paul Exben (Duris) is a Paris-based lawyer and married father of two who slowly comes to realise that this is not his beautiful wife (Fois), and, more importantly, this is not the beautiful life he had planned for himself. His first love may have been photography, but Paul chose a safer and more lucrative line of work. Which is ironic, given that he now believes his wife is having an affair with a photographer (Eric Ruf) – who, after a confrontation with Paul, ends up dead. And that’s when Paul decides to finally follow his passion, by faking his own death whilst disposing of the photographer’s body and assuming his identity.

THE VERDICT: Based on Douglas Kennedy’s eponymous novel, this smart little Ripley-esque tale makes for a smart little twister of a movie, director Lartigau aided and abetted by a wonderful central performance from Roman Duris (so memorable in The Beat That My Heart Skipped). As with any decent thriller, there are twists you never quite see coming, and so, by the end, you’re just about ready for the darkness that descends. RATING: 4/5