EVERYONE needs a shower buddy, right? Fresh from escaping the clutches of their despicable employers in Horrible Bosses (2011), Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Arbus) set up their own company in Horrible Bosses 2 (15A).
When their idea of manufacturing a multi-purpose shower-hose is hijacked by ruthless businessman Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz), the hapless trio plot to kidnap Hanson’s son Rex (Chris Pine) and demand a ransom. Naturally, things do not go according to plan.
Sean Anders’ movie hits the ground running, establishing both a cracking pace and a neat line in acerbic, ad-lib humour, as Bateman, Sudeikis and Arbus slot back into their roles of bickering ‘frenemies’ without missing a beat. The story initially follows a very similar trajectory to the first outing, as the threesome bungle a number of break-ins and clumsily implicate themselves in all manner of criminality, but soon the tale evolves into a smart parody of kidnap-gone-wrong movies (there’s a neat nod to the late Elmore Leonard, the master of heist-gone-wrong stories, in the codenames the characters adopt for themselves). Unusually for a comedy sequel, Horrible Bosses 2 is funnier than its predecessor, largely because the central trio are so comfortable in their roles, although Chris Pine threatens to steal the entire show with his turn as the unhinged, triple-crossing Rex. There’s also room for a number of high-profile cameos from Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey, reprising their characters from the first movie, and it all adds up to a fast, furious and funny kidnap romp.
The beloved duffle-coated bear from Darkest Peru, Paddington (G) gets the feature-length treatment in what is probably the most charming movie of the year. When an earthquake devastates the Peruvian jungle where he lives, Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is packed off to London by his aunt, who believes that he will find a kindly family to take him in.
Befriended by artist Mrs Brown (Sally Hawkins) and her son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin), Paddington finds a place to stay at 32 Windsor Gardens despite the entirely reasonable protests of Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville), who believes the bear will destroy his home’s harmony. Paddington’s penchant for getting into house-wrecking scrapes isn’t his only problem, however; taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman in full-blown Cruella De Vil mode) needs a particular kind of Peruvian bear to complete her exotic collection of stuffed animals … The brilliant cutting-edge animation that brings Paddington to life sets the tone here: director Paul King is faithful to the source material of Michael Bond’s stories, and maintains the aura of old-fashioned innocent curiosity that is one of Paddington’s most winning traits, yet he invests the story with a cheeky irreverence that speaks to a contemporary generation. The performances are strong too, with excellent actors such as Bonneville and Hawkins joined by a fabulous supporting cast, including Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Imelda Staunton, Michael Gambon, Julie Walters and Matt Lucas. Underpinning all the japes and knockabout humour, meanwhile, is a thoughtful subtext which places Paddington’s adventures in the context of the immigrant experience, and which makes Paddington a genuinely moving tale. All told, it’s a beautiful film for young and old alike.
I Am Ali (G) does exactly what it says on the tin, offering a very personal portrait of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, the undisputed greatest of all time.
Clare Lewins’ film has unprecedented access to Ali’s trove of audio recordings, which detail private conversations with friends and family, and which are spliced into more familiar video footage of the peerless Ali as the film charts his development from skinny young underachiever in Louisville, Kentucky to Olympic champion, and onward to become the most famous person on the planet. What the film implicitly argues, however – as most of the talking heads who contribute do – is that Ali didn’t become a 20th century icon simply for his prowess in the ring: he was also a towering figure in the political discourse of the 1960s, and a figurehead for social revolution. Moreover, he was also, according to testimony from his daughters, ex-wives, old foes and many friends, an incredibly likeable and endlessly generous man who lived life to the full.
The absence of contemporary interview footage with the man himself is telling – Ali, of course, now suffers from Parkinson’s Disease – but that’s a minor quibble. Even without it, I Am Ali is a poignant, inspiring and hugely enjoyable documentary, and the man’s graceful athleticism, even now remains jaw-dropping.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved