In Cake, it takes about fifteen minutes for director Daniel Barnz to establish the ground rules for this familiar portrait of grief and addiction, followed up by another 90 minutes or so of dramatic clumsiness and eye-rolling clichés. Whether it is drugs, sex, or booze, each brings a routine numbing quality to the table for Claire Bennett (Aniston), a seemingly darkly comedic and scathing woman who we first meet in a support group for chronic physical pain.
There’s nothing more depressing than a lazy comedy, and Horrible Bosses 2 suffers from a terminal case of laziness. Instead of gleefully diving into its richly-black premise, it settles for obvious sight gags and uninspired improvisations. A talented comedic cast is wasted on material that aims for mediocrity and hits the target over and over again. There simply aren’t enough laughs here to justify this film’s existence.
Ordell Robbie (Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def) and Louis Gara (John Hawkes) get much more than they bargained for after kidnapping the wife of a corrupt real-estate developer (Tim Robbins). As it turns out, Frank Dawson has no intentions of paying the ransom for the well-being of his wife, Mickey (Jennifer Aniston). He had been seeking a way to leave his wife of many years for his mistress (Isla Fisher), and fortunately Ordell and Louis took care of the messiness of actually leaving Mickey for him by kidnapping her.
With the timing of a well-orchestrated heist, the latest screen adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel closes this year’s Toronto Film Festival. Given his recent passing and the well-deserved plaudits from various luminaries of pen and screen, his rap sheet has been celebrated over the past few weeks. Based on Leonard’s novel The Switch, writer and director Daniel Schechter has managed to embezzle a fine addition to the long list of lean Leonard works. Although it doesn’t quite hit the jackpot, it does manage to purloin some fine criminal characters and a gutsy group of belly laughs to boot.