The Films of Sean Anders
Never Been Thawed
Sex Drive (October 16/08)
Though it kicks off with a relatively promising opening half hour, Sex Drive's increasingly tedious storyline - coupled with a distinct lack of laughs - ensures that it ultimately comes off as an almost interminable endeavor. The film stars Josh Zuckerman as Ian, a dorky high schooler who - along with friends Lance (Clark Duke) and Felicia (Amanda Crew) - embarks on a cross-country road trip to meet (and hopefully sleep with) a beautiful internet pen pal named Ms. Tasty. Filmmaker Sean Anders does a fairly decent job of initially drawing the viewer into the movie, with James Marsden's hilariously over-the-top turn as Ian's 'roid-raging brother proving to be a highlight almost immediately. The creeping inclusion of egregiously stale elements within the proceedings slowly-but-surely renders the film's few positive attributes moot, however, as screenwriters Anders and John Morris emphasize some of the most hackneyed plot developments imaginable - with the trajectory of Ian's friendship with lifelong crush Felicia undoubtedly a key (and hopelessly eye-rolling) example of this. The road trip that occupies the bulk of Sex Drive's midsection has been infused with a whole host of entirely ineffective (and wholly unfunny) encounters and characters, which is certainly no small feat given the presence of such naturally hilarious folks as Brian Posehn and David Koechner in cameo roles. The painfully drawn-out third act - in which all the major characters (and a few others) somehow converge on the same spot - only exacerbates the film's various problems, with the end result one of the least impressive comedies to come around in quite some time.
That's My Boy
A typically terrible Adam Sandler comedy, That's My Boy opens with a long, tedious prologue revolving around a teenager's (Justin Weaver's Donny) illicit affair with his fetching teacher (Eva Amurri's Mary) - with the union ultimately sending Mary to prison and leaving Donny forced to raise the resulting baby. Decades later, Donny (Sandler) attempts to raise some quick cash by agreeing to participate in a televised reunion with Mary and his now adult son (Andy Samberg's Todd) - although, as becomes clear, Todd wants absolutely nothing to do with his irresponsible father. Right from the get-go, with its statutory-rape opening, That's My Boy establishes itself as a misguided and aggressively unfunny endeavor that boasts few attributes designed to capture and sustain the viewer's interest - with Sandler's grating performance (ie what's the deal with that voice?) merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the movie's deficiencies. Far more problematic is the film's almost total lack of laughs, as director Sean Anders, working from David Caspe's screenplay, places a consistent emphasis on jokes and gags of a misguided, hopelessly unfunny nature. (It is, for example, impossible not to wonder just what's supposed to be hilarious about Todd's boss' casual racism towards his Asian employees.) Even if one were willing to overlook That's My Boy's atmosphere of grim humorlessness, the viewer would still be forced to contend with the decidedly lifeless pace and padded-out running time (ie there's a bachelor-party sequence that just feels endless). By the time the eye-rollingly melodramatic and predictable final stretch rolls around, That's My Boy has established itself as just another disastrous example of Sandler's now total irrelevance - with, admittedly, the inclusion of a few chuckle-worthy Vanilla Ice references (eg the 5.0 from the "Ice Ice Baby" video makes an amusing appearance) preventing the movie from reaching Jack and Jill levels of incompetence.
Horrible Bosses 2
Horrible Bosses 2 follows Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day), and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) as they're forced to once again engage in felonious behavior, with the narrative detailing the guys' efforts at swindling a callous businessman (Christoph Waltz's Bert) and his son (Chris Pine's Rex) out of millions of dollars. Although the law of diminishing returns is in full effect here, Horrible Bosses 2 boasts an affable atmosphere that ensures it remains, for the most part, quite watchable - with the natural chemistry between the movie's three stars playing a key role in its mild success. It's clear, too, that the film benefits substantially from the efforts of its strong supporting cast, with, in particular, Pine delivering an agreeably smarmy turn as the narrative's central villain (ie the actor seamlessly abandons his clean-cut, good-guy image to become this seriously reprehensible figure). And while filmmaker Sean Anders packs the proceedings with several laugh-out-loud instances of comedy - eg the protagonists adopt increasingly ludicrous accents while making a phone call for ransom - Horrible Bosses 2 suffers from a flabby midsection that's compounded by an emphasis on obviously improvised bits of silliness. The movie does, as a result, flounder to a noticeable degree in the buildup to its action-oriented finale, and it's ultimately difficult not to wish that Anders had exercised a little more control and discipline over his actors - which, in the end, confirms Horrible Bosses 2's place as a decent yet slightly underwhelming comedy sequel.
Predictably stupid and hopelessly obnoxious, Daddy's Home follows Will Ferrell's well-meaning Brad Whitaker as he finds his status with his wife (Linda Cardellini's Sara) and stepkids (Scarlett Estevez's Megan and Owen Vaccaro's Dylan) threatened after the children's biological father (Mark Wahlberg's Dusty Mayron) arrives on the scene. It's an eye-rollingly pedestrian premise that's executed to seriously underwhelming effect by director Sean Anders, with the movie's pervasively generic atmosphere compounded by an almost total lack of laughs (ie most of the comedic elements here fail to evoke even a chuckle). The film's low-hanging-fruit sensibilities pave the way for a raft of over-the-top sequences that are, to put it mildly, misguided, and it's clear, too, that Anders, working from a screenplay cowritten with John Morris and Brian Burns, compounds the less-than-hilarious vibe by infusing every aspect of the proceedings with an almost painfully broad feel. Ferrell and Wahlberg's disastrously lazy work here finally confirms Daddy's Home as nothing more than an ill-conceived cash-grab, and, notwithstanding an amusing final few minutes, it's difficult to envision anyone viewing this as anything more than the cinematic equivalent of elevator music.
Daddy's Home 2
Right in line with its lackluster predecessor, Daddy’s Home 2 follows Brad (Will Ferrell) and Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) as their attempts to celebrate a joint Christmas are sidelined by the disruptive arrival of their respective fathers (John Lithgow’s Don and Mel Gibson’s Kurt). It's clear that Daddy's Home 2 fares best in its surprisingly watchable opening stretch, as director Sean Anders, working from a script cowritten with John Morris, does an effective job of initially emphasizing the characters' refreshingly low-key exploits - with the movie, at the outset, coming off as a genial hang-out comedy devoid of the predictably over-the-top silliness one might've anticipated (and dreaded). (It doesn't hurt, either, that Gibson and Lithgow are fun, welcome additions to the cast.) The film's steady, inevitable transformation into a tedious contemporary comedy is triggered by a misguided bit involving a snow blower, with Daddy's Home 2, past that point, riddled with equally questionable elements (eg a stupid, pointless rivalry between Brad and Dusty's wives) that pave the way for an often interminable second half (ie the movie's midsection seems to consist entirely of the characters' nonstop squabbling and melodramatic exploits). By the time the tough-to-swallow and desperately uplifting climax rolls around, Daddy's Home 2 has certainly confirmed its place as a cynical, cashgrab of a sequel with few redeeming attributes.