Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses is a fairly timely comedy about three friends (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day) who love their jobs but hate their respective bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston) and feel the only way their lives will get better is if they kill their employers. Of course, nothing goes according to plan. It has a strong cast and everyone seems to be having a good time, particularly the bosses themselves. This one gets bonus points from me for having Charlie Day of Always Sunny fame and everything could use more Charlie Day. Also, I encountered a boss that wasn’t too far off from Colin Farrell’s character, only missing the illegal activity and the martial arts obsession.
I remember when this came out, many were confused why the protagonists would go to such great lengths when they could just quit their jobs but the film does a very good job at making the stakes very high, with two characters being told their bosses will make sure to ruin their reputations if they quit and Sedeikis’ boss making deals that will danger the environment. Aniston’s character even tries to blackmail Day’s character into sleeping with her. The three bumble their way through devising a plan with help of the most dangerous guy they can get to talk to them, Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx) who acts tough but ends up having a very tame rap sheet.
You can really tell this film was a treat to make for the cast. The three bosses are so over the top awful, who wouldn’t want to act that badly with no consequences? This isn’t the first time Spacey played a boss so terrible he inspired his underlings to cause him bodily harm (See his performance in Swimming With Sharks) and he hurls insults with the best of them, but for Farrell and Aniston, these characters were a change of pace. Farrell had dropped out of the spotlight after a string of disappointing films, and returns as the almost unrecognizable Bobby Pellitt. Bald and paunchy, Farrell is a far cry from his usual charming self. It reminded everyone how much fun he is to watch, allowing him to return to leading man roles in big blockbusters life the upcoming Total Recall remake. And Jennifer Aniston is anything but the girl next door as she sexually harasses her assistant played by Day. She’s raunchy, getting all the most jaw dropping bits of dialogue and makes every action uncomfortably sexual. It’s roles like this one that make we think Aniston may be cooler than her typical film persona makes her out to be. Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day are what you expect but they gel well as longtime friends even though in real life they wouldn’t be the right ages to be former classmates.
Good movie to watch after a stressful day at work. Very relatable plot for these troubled economic times. While not a stand-out, it’s an enjoyable 98 minutes with a solid cast.

Arrested Development

We live in a fairly amazing world. If you need evidence of this, look no further than the fact that previously cancelled shows can come back to life. Next year, new episodes of Arrested Development will be released on Netflick, reuniting one of the best casts in television history to continue” the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them together.” There really is no weak link in this series. Everyone is perfectly cast, the writing is amazing with many jokes planted seasons before their pay off, and clever directing that winks at the audience.

When head of the Bluth family and company, George Sr (Jeffrey Tambor)  is arrested for long lists of crimes, his middle son Michael (Jason Bateman) is put in charge of keeping all things Bluth together. However, Michael despises his mother ( Jessica Walter), finds his three siblings (Will Arnett, Portia de Rossi, and Tony Hale) to be spoiled, useless brats, and hopes to keep his son George Michael (Michael Cera) from becoming one of them. While there are times where Michael appreciates his family, they never fail to disappoint him with their selfishness and their stupidity.

I often compare to the Bluths to another famous family, The Corleones of the Godfather trilogy. Think about it: Gob is the impulsive older brother, Lindsay is the bratty sister who married a man the family doesn’t approve of (David Cross), Buster is helpless brother who can’t be trusted with the business, and the son who has to step in against his will is even named Michael! One of the show biggest strengths is that each character has their own unique identity and the actors take turns being the funniest one in the scene. The cast also really enjoyed working together and respected one another, which is apparent when you watch them interact.

As a writer, I really have to be in awe of what those who worked on Arrested Development created. If you play close attention there is so much subtle stuff that’s going on in the background, waiting patiently for their pay-off, sometimes seasons later. Everything is so carefully crafted that nothing is filler, it shows you what an artform episodic television can be when treated as a whole instead of one episode at a time. One recurring inside jokes was that the Bluth family is being followed by a reality show crew, much like the characters in The Office, but unlike The Office, the characters never act like they are part of a show with talking head segments, etc. There are hints throughout the series that are easy to miss but the show trusts that the audience will piece everything together.

While it is tragic we’ve had so few Arrested Development episodes for so long, I sometimes wonder if it’s one of those “Better to burn out than to fade away” situations. What we have is so precious and perfect, would it have turned become  shell of its former self if allowed to continue? I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the new episodes and always treasure my seasons 1-3 DVDs.

 

Favorite episode: Good Grief