The Judge (2014)
It could be said that many movies of the recent Robert Downey Jnr era (by which I mean all of his comic book films) aim to hit more than one genre, typically comedy mixed with big-budget action and a protagonist you find it hard to identify with but root for anyway.
The Judge follows suit, not just with a protagonist that it’s hard to identify with or like (despite the first few scenes trying to pull you the other way) but with its attempt to try and grasp multiple genres – in this case its ‘courtroom drama’ and ‘chick flick’.
The two lead characters, father and son (Robert Duvall), spend the entire film being mutually rude and unlikeable – and the character you get the impression we’re supposed to like? Downey’s high-school sweetheart who lacks maturity and was such a slut back in high school she slept with Downey’s brother, bore a child and never told him? Downey’s seemingly superfluous daughter, whose role in the film seems relatively pointless for the most part?
What irked me most about this film was that it seemed to take place in reverse. We’d see someone being horrible and only learn the motivation behind their action afterwards. You allow it to work a few times, but as the movie drags on they start to feel more like an afterthought. It should have picked one genre and focussed on doing it well. Perhaps they were trying to be clever with the name but I think I’m giving them too much credit.
The performances themselves aren’t bad, both Downey and Duvall play the mutual disrespect well, but the redemption and forgiveness of the ending seems hardly worth the bleak family situation you’re forced to endure – particularly the bathtub scene.
If you’re someone who’ll fawn over a RDJ film solely because he’s in it, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you enjoy tepid drama about spending a life time to win your fathers love about 10 seconds before he dies (oh wait SPOILER ALERT) then you’ll probably enjoy it, too.
Sadly I don’t meet either of those criteria. As far as I’m concerned, this should have just been a 3 or 4 part lifetime movie. 5/10
Horrible Bosses 2
What better way to bathe in the lukewarm success of a movie than to get everyone together for a sequel?
If you want to watch the whole movie, in essence, watch this trailer.
It’s not Transformers, but it’s an a very similar idea to the first one in many ways, just with a few people and situations changed. The first one wasn’t bad either, but ultimately it’s a bunch of TV actors stringing some admittedly amusing jokes together, with some less amusing ones to fill time. I’d be more inclined to watch this, once again, if it was episodic instead of another feature so quickly in the wake of the last one.
I want to like Jason Bateman, I do, but I just can’t. I don’t know if it’s because I see him as Michael Bluth all the time, but it probably is. Charlie Day is Charlie Day, which is great, but I’ll just wait two more weeks for the next season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Spacey is ruthless and fun, Foxx is hilarious, Waltz is charming (if superfluous for the most part), but… meh. 4/10
Dumb and Dumber To (2014)
Yes, perhaps this movie shouldn’t exist, and perhaps you’re also expecting a similar panning to the one I gave Horrible Bosses 2 – but there’s a big difference between these two films – and that difference is TIME!
Whereas the first Horrible Bosses has only been out on DVD for a year or two, the original Dumb and Dumber is TWENTY YEARS OLD! Far out, I’m old. I’m not here to argue whether the original was even worthy of a sequel, but it’s not like Carrey and Daniels would have had the kind of careers since that would make them do it solely for the money.
The original wasn’t great, but somehow managed to stay in our minds with a host of sight gags and stupid actions. This is almost exactly the same film, just with much more disgusting gags and stupid acts thanks to far lower standards these days.
Sorry, I got distracted watching Jim Carrey clips for about 20 minutes there.
If you hated the first one I don’t even know why you’d bother watching the second. I didn’t hate it, but I don’t own it on DVD. What this movie somehow still retains despite the aforementioned disgusting bits is a sort of 90’s road-trip comedy nostalgia. Given what the original was, the second has certainly succeeded in re-telling an old story with updated, modern jokes. Yes, it’s a dumb story, but it doesn’t pretend not to be.
Perhaps if more franchises were willing to wait two decades before pumping out a sequel, the adjustment to a whole new world of jokes could make up for the relatively weak writing. That’s what franchises like Horrible Bosses and so many others need – the time to decide whether a sequel is worth making in the first place, and a cast that’s willing to wait to find out. I’m not saying it was in this case, but 20 years is long enough no matter how bad the original was. 6/10