Friday, August 19, 2011

Film review: THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE (Ben Palmer, 2011)

Anyone who watches the show knows the set up of the inbetweener boys: Will McKenzie, bespectacled, well-mannered but massively irritating, his best friend Simon, the most attractive of the clan but let down by his gelled-up hair and his relentless thirst for pricktease Carli D’Amato, who clearly doesn’t feel a fraction of the intensity he does to her, dim and slow-witted Neil, and Jay, chronically bullshitting about women he’s shagged, things he’s done, and er, women he’s shagged. 

The four boys’ ridiculously embarrassing travails through life made for three hugely entertaining series on Channel 4, albeit with the third series being discernibly less funny than the previous two, series three feeling a lot like a re-hash of the jokes they used before, but turned up to an eleven. Well, in the boys’ big-screen outing, they hit Greece on summer holiday, and now they have a brand new country to bring their individual brand of gross-out comedy to.

Perverse as it is, throughout the film, I was actually reminded a bit of the Sex and the City movies, except for four boys rather than women. Now, hear me out. Lots of people felt disappointed with Sex and the City the Movie, feeling it was just one drawn out episode, but that’s pretty much the same with the Inbetweeners Movie, and in both movies, I had a terrific time. 

Further more, as with Sex and the City, despite all the women being well into their forties (and Samantha considerably older), they all have their journeys to make, lessons to learn throughout the course of the film, whether that be about courage, sacrifice, fidelity, or love. The lessons in The Inbetweeners Movie, suffice to say, are a little less meaty, but there is a surprisingly uplifting feel to the way the four boys find redemption in their sweet/sick ways.

Leggy blonde Laura Haddock, who is no stranger to lads’ mags across the UK, leads the quartet of attractive girls who catch the four boys’ eyes. Each girl is pretty in her own way, particularly Laura Haddock (Will’s love interest Alison) with her astoundingly definded cheekbones and babydoll eyes and Tamla Kari, the pretty brunette who clearly likes Simon, despite the fact that he is still blindly going on about Carli, who, incidentally, is also at Malia. 

The way the four boys eff it up with their respective female counterparts is exactly like in an episode of the show, except, this being the big-screen, the writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris were a little more generous to their four long-suffering leads. Nonetheless, all four boys make more than their share of horrendously cringe-inducing gaffes along the way.

This being The Inbetweeners, you can pretty much make a mental ticklist of things you’re going to hear jokes about: masturbation, anal sex, other weird sex practices, poo, the list is endless. The characters also get involved in embarrassing situations not involving bodily functions or fluids; witness Jay as he tries to drown a well-meaning-but-slightly-annoying-boy on holiday, or Will, King of putting his foot in it, when he argues with a handicapped girl’s dad over rights to a lounge chair. 

But the funniest scene in the entire film was, for me, the cringefest that was Neil, Will and Simon trying to get the girls’ attentions by dancing up to them. If you can call it dancing. I call it “sides splitting with laughter.”

Critics have hailed The Inbetweeners Movie prurient, juvenile, and relentlessly crude. They are right. Some of the jokes do fall flat, but the ones that are good are great, and coupled with a cheesy-cool soundtrack, some genuine drama (Simon and Jay fall out, like, omgz!!!!) and an arsenal of one-liners that will have you hiding behind your hands with embarrassment, The Inbetweeners Movie pretty much does what it says it would on the tin, with an added bonus of the unexpected but genuine satisfaction the viewer gets from seeing our four boys become men – sort of.

Grade: B+

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Four restaurant reviews.

I’ve been to a couple of eateries recently, so a few more reviews.

Häagen-Dazs, WC2H
Häagen-Dazs’ flagship restaurant sits in Leicester Square, where tourists passing by will surely see it, their kids will get excited and ask to go in, and money will be spent, leaving lots of space for profit margins. And, if ice cream’s your thing, then you are in for a treat here; the dishes are lovingly prepared and beautifully ornamented, so much so that it almost balances out the overpricedness (but then again, this being Central London, overcharging is somewhat of a requisite). For the adults, Häagen-Dazs also do a delightful range of cocktails, in which healthy portions of alcohol are balanced out by slushed-up ice cream. The doses are lethal; I got tipsy after one cocktail! Service is okay-ish, pretty much as can be expected for a busy dessert restaurant, without ever venturing into the regions of excellent, making Häagen-Dazs overall, a worthwhile experience, elevated, somewhat surprisingly, by the excellent quality of their drinks rather than their ice creams.
Grade: B+

New China, W1.
As you may or may not know, just of Leicester Square is Chinatown, where there are literally tens, maybe even a hundred Chinese restaurants. This hyper-competition is good for the consumer, because it drives prices down, and as such, the prices in New China restaurant were all very reasonable, en-par to prices that you would find at my local high street, but in Central London. And, on the whole, I would say that the quality of the food is hit-and-miss as a result. I ordered beef in chilli and thought it a very well-cooked dish, but the vegetation spring rolls I had for starter tasted like an utter microwave job. The squid was bland and the egg-fried rice was acceptable, but far from being the best egg-fried rice I’d ever tasted. Alcohol prices were acceptable. The dessert of a fruit tray, however, was absolutely disgusting, all the fruit was dry and tasted past its sell by date. All this would be forgivable if the service in New China were anything to write home about. But it really wasn’t. When I’m in a Chinese restaurant, I like to play up to my Chinese roots and try to order dishes in Chinese. Which I don’t think is asking for much? But the waiters refused to even humour me and rolled their eyes in my face as I mispronounced some of the dish names. De-lightful. Won’t be going back there again!

Grade: D

McDonald's, SE13

Absolutely ace. Everything in this photo came to just over a tenner, and both me and my brother were stuffed - and delighted by the end of it. I cannot get enough of McDonald's! The only downside was this uppity bitch in the queue who started on me for - what I can only surmise - not being a teenage mother like her. But you kind of have to be prepared for events like that when you go to McDonald's. The A+ quality of the food makes up for it.

Grade: A

Chowki, W1D

A passable curry eatery with some delicious meat dishes, but negated by waiters who stared at us the whole time creepily, and pocketed both a tip and a service charge. Because that's not sneaky at all. On the bright side, I ordered the chicken tikka masala, which I thought was thoroughly satisfying, if a little bit too small for the £10.50 price tag - I wolfed it down in a minute. Decent food, just awful, awful service from some of the most seedy-looking men I've seen in my life.

Obligatory list is bloody obligatory.

It’s a yearly thing that I do – list my top 100 songs, and then see how much the list has changed. So, here we go for the 2011 edition!

(side note – unlike my taste in films and rather more like my taste in footballers, my taste in music is atrocious. Shitty R&B and girlband choons lamenting love are pretty much my life’s calling. But I like what I like, and I ain’t gonna front about it! So learn to deal.jpg :p)

01. Homecoming (Kanye West ft. Chris Martin)
02. Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)
03. Angie Baby (Helen Reddy)
04. Rocky Raccoon (The Beatles)
05. Hallelujah (Rufus Wainwright)
06. Alison (Elvis Costello)
07. Sinnerman (Nina Simone)
08. Sexy! No No No… (Girls Aloud)
09. Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie (Joanna Newsom)
10. Paper Planes (M.I.A.)
11. November Has Come (Gorillaz)
12. Samson (Regina Spektor)
13. Adia (Sarah McLachlan)
14. Run this Town (Rihanna, Jay-Z and Kanye West)
15. Power (Kanye West)
16. Untouchable (Girls Aloud)
17. Talk Show Host (Radiohead)
18. Lullaby (Dixie Chicks)
19. All These Things that I've Done (The Killers)
20. Love the Way You Lie Part II (Rihanna ft. Eminem)
21. Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits)
22. Head over Heels (Tears for Fears)
23. Boys Don't Cry (The Cure)
24. Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy (Queen)
25. Defying Gravity (Idina Menzel)

26. Glory Box (Portishead)
27. Hey Stephen (Taylor Swift)
28. Empire State of Mind: Broken Down (Alicia Keys)
29. 2am (The Saturdays)
30. Fix Up Look Sharp (Dizzee Rascal)
31. Tiny Dancer (Elton John)
32. Baba O'Riley (The Who)
33. Wildwood Flower (June Carter Cash)
34. My Love (Sia)
35. The Loving Kind (Girls Aloud)
36. California Dreamin' (The Mamas and the Papas)
37. Chelsea Dagger (The Fratellis)
38. My Father's Gun (Elton John)
39. Seasons of Love (Idina Menzel)
40. What’s My Name? (Rihanna)
41. Hey Jude (The Beatles)
42. Brandy Alexander (Feist)
43. Don't Stop Believin' (Journey)
44. Love Affair (Regina Spektor)
45. I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea (Elvis Costello)
46. Dragon Queen (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
47. Under Pressure (Queen ft David Bowie)
48. Brown Eyes (Lady Gaga)
49. It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Todd Rundgren)
50. Clothes Off! (Gym Class Heroes)

51. Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears)
52. Underneath Your Clothes (Shakira)
53. Breathe (Taylor Swift)
54. Travelin' Soldier (Dixie Chicks)
55. Jesus Walks (Kanye West)
56. Numb Encore (Jay Z ft. Linkin Park)
57. Lovely Head (Goldfrapp)
58. I Wish I Knew How it Feels to Be Free (Nina Simone)
59. Shout (Tears for Fears)
60. She (Elvis Costello)
61. Clint Eastwood (Gorillaz)
62. Vincent (Don McLean)
63. Love will Tear us Apart (Joy Division)
64. Lullaby (The Cure)
65. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles)
66. Sunshowers (M.I.A.)
67. Pennies in my Pocket (Emilio Estefan)
68. Jackson (Johnny and June Carter Cash)
69. Dream on (Aerosmith)
70. Wonderwall (Oasis)
71. Make You Feel My Love (Adele)
72. Airplanes part 2 (B.o.B, Hayley Williams & Eminem)
73. The Killing Moon (Echo and the Bunnymen)
74. Teenage Dream (Katy Perry)
75. Momentum (Aimee Mann)

76. The River (Joni Mitchell)
77. Golden Slumbers (K.D. Lang)
78. Hey Mama (Kanye West)
79. Braille (Regina Spektor)
80. Back to Black (Amy Winehouse)
81. O Saya (A.R. Rahman ft. M.I.A)
82. Bossy (Kelis)
83. Chillin' (WALE ft Lady Gaga)
84. Take a Bow (Rihanna)
85. Lean on Me (Bill Withers)
86. Ignition (Remix) (R. Kelly)
87. The Call (Regina Spektor)
88. Machine Gun (Portishead)
89. Twentyfourseven (Artful Dodger)
90. Strict Machine (Goldfrapp)
91. Motivation (Kelly Rowland ft. Lil’ Wayne)
92. Too Young (Phoenix)
93. The Next Messiah (Jenny Lewis)
94. You've got the Dirtee Love (Florence and the Machine ft Dizzee Rascal)
95. No More (3LW)
96. Feel Good inc (Gorillaz)
97. We Will Rock You (Queen)
98. Like I Love You (Justin Timberlake)
99. Call the Shots (Girls Aloud)
100. Forget You (Cee Lo Green)

By artist:
Kanye: 6
Girls Aloud: 4
Rihanna: 4
The Beatles: 3
Queen: 3
Gorillaz: 3
Elvis Costello: 3

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Teenage Dream.

After a wait of what feels like an eternity, the premier league is back this weekend. This year, the general consensus is that the premier league title is most likely to be a three-horse race between the old wealth of Manchester United, the nouvelle riche of Chelsea, and the even newer nouvelle riche of United’s “noisy neighbours” Manchester City. Hot on their tails will be the two North London teams Arsenal and Tottenham, and Liverpool, all of which have had their share of head-turning transfer activity in the summer, whether it be getting players into the club, or certain players voicing their desires to leave. With the influx of big-name, big-price acquisitions, it is often easy to overlook the younger players who make just as much of an impact. Here are ten British players all 21 or younger, who will be sure to make and impact for their respective teams in the upcoming season.

11. Martin Kelly, Liverpool (born: Whiston, Merseyside, age: 21)
10. Tom Cleverly, Manchester United (born: Basingstoke, age: 21)
09. Marc Albrighton, Aston Villa (born: Tamworth, Staffordshire, age: 21)
08. Dan Gosling, Newcastle (born: Brixham, Devon, age: 21)
07. Jack Rodwell, Everton (born: Southport, Merseyside, age: 20)

06. Jordan Henderson, Liverpool (born: Sunderland, age: 21)
This time last year, Jordan Henderson was a fairly low-key local lad at Sunderland, not doing anything wrong, and quietly going about his business. This Saturday, however, he faces his old – and lifelong team – as a Liverpool player, with the weight of the £16million price tag hanging over his young head. Having impressed for Sunderland, he tirelessly went on to play for England in their U21 tournaments, in which, like their senior counterparts, they failed miserably. But it’s this kind of boundless energy that won him their Young Player of the Year accolade for two years running, and has the red half of Liverpool smacking their lips at their bright young thing. The majority of football critics believe that fourth place this year is Liverpool's for the taking, and it will be interesting to see the part Henderson plays in their quest for it.

05. Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal (born: Caerphilly, Wales, age: 20)
When Ryan Shawcross made that horror tackle that put Ramsey’s promising career on halt 18 months ago, Arsenal fans were, quite rightly, furious. Because, up until then, Ramsey’s game epitomized all that is good about Arsene Wenger’s football mentality, and he slotted into their midfield perfectly. After a long – and what must have seemed like an eternity – of a recovery process for the lad, he made baby steps back into the football world, including a match-winning goal and Man-of-the-Match performance against Manchester United last season, as well as being named Wales captain. Fresh faced and clean shaven, Aaron Ramsey has a squeaky clean image that is only too rare in the footballing world these days, and has the skill to bring out the best in all of Arsenal’s attackers.

04. Danny Rose, Tottenham (born: Doncaster, age: 21)
The Woody Allen references came in thick and fast in the North London derby of April 2010, when Danny Rose, who’s appearance on the Spurs teamsheet for such a sizzling fixture caused everyone some puzzlement – until he hit a thunderbolt of a volley from 30metres out way past the reach of Manuel Almunia and into the goal. Since then, his appearances in the premier league have been limited, and he is unfortunate in that the position he occupies the same position as Gareth Bale, who, himself, is the latest wunderkind to emerge out of White Hart Lane. But, as his performances in the Euro U21s demonstrated, kid’s got tonnes of potential and has vowed to fight for his place at Spurs to demonstrate as such. Although, to be honest, no matter what ace things he does over the next twenty years, nothing will ever come close to *that* goal.

03. Josh McEachran, Chelsea (born: Oxford, age: 18)
News of Michael Essien’s long-term injury was met with groans and grimaces around West London. For, whilst the Ghanaian had a pretty need-to-train worthy season last year, just his general presence as an anchor in Chelsea’s midfield gives all the rest of the team a welcome sense of security. But, with every cloud comes a silver lining, and it is time for young Joshua to fill Essien’s boots. As with Wilshere, McEachran came up through Chelsea’s ranks, so he automatically gets points for that, but furthermore, he is a classy, measured footballer, who, unlike the senior players at the team, eschews the garish lights of nightclubs like Tiger Tiger. This little tiger burns bright on his own accord.

02. Danny Sturridge, Chelsea (born: Birmingham, age: 21)
When Chelsea shelled out £50 million of Roman Abramovich’s oil money for Fernando Torres in the transfer window this January, very little consideration was really given for Sturridge. He was loaned out to Bolton, but the English Meeja were far too busy rubbing their hands together at how miserably the Torres/Drogba strikeforce was misfiring to notice that Chelsea’s youngest forward was happily banging them in for Bolton, whilst Torres could not hit a cow’s arse with the proverbial banjo. Whilst Torres struggled to adapt to Chelsea’s style and formation, Daniel Sturridge adapted brilliantly to Bolton’s game. The boy continued to impress for England in the Euro U21s tournament, as well as for Chelsea in pre-season, wherein he bagged a brace against Rangers in their latest friendly. Much has been made of Chelsea’s acquisition of 18-year-old wonderkid Romelu Lukaku, but I was much more measured in processing the news, as we already have more than enough forwards, and I worry that the signing of Lukaku will mean that, once again, Sturridge is unfairly bumped down the Chelsea pecking order, when his form suggests that he deserves quite the opposite.

and, even as a Chelsea fan, first place has to be reserved for, the one, the only...

01. Jack Wilshere, Arsenal (born: Hitchin, Herts, age: 19)

With his garish Christian tattoo plastered across his forearm, penchant for drunkenly hollering in a “don’t you know who I am?” manner at cab drivers and tendency for putting his nose in where it’s not needed on twitter (witness all the Spurs fans jump on his back when he gave his two cents over the whole Luka Modric-to-Chelsea saga affair earlier this Summer) as well as status as a baby daddy at the ripe young age of 19, Jack Wilshere has all the DNA of an England has-been. But, for all his off-pitch travails, one thing cannot be denied: boy has talent. He was one of the few bright spots for Arsenal fans last season and impressed on the big Champions League platform as well in the domestic league. A firm fan favourite due to his emergence through the Arsenal ranks as well as the fact that he’s a Stevenage boy (which is the closest Gooners are gonna get to local, let’s be honest), and that he wears his heart on his sleeve, and most of all, that he’s a bloody good footballer. Fast, skilful, and with a passing range that would impress even Xavi, Jack Wilshere is exactly the kind of no-guts-no-glory midfielder that Arsenal, and England, need.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Restaurant review: Cacciari's, SW7.

In a cosy cafe-alike in Old Brompton road sits Cacciari's, a cosy and utterly likeable Italian restaurant. The waitress serving us was lovely; and such was their hospitality that we were gifted a free Bellini by the end of the night; always a welcome treat. I sampled almost half the cocktail menu, having the mojito, the Bloody Mary, the margherita and the Bellini, and each cocktail was loving prepared and tasted great, in particular the margherita, which was a lot more peppery than how I'm used to, but it was all the better for it.

Food-wise, I was almost knocked out of my seat with how reasonable the prices were, not least as we were in Kensington, one of the most wealthiest parts of London (and trust me, plenty of other restaurants in Chelsea & Ken are more than happy to ride on that SW-postcode and use it as an excuse to churn out crap food). For starters, much like at Theo Randall, I had mozerella and tomato, but unlike at Theo Randall (£12 for a tiny plate meant that it was essentially charging its customers £6 a bite), the £9 price tag at Cacciari's was justified, a generous-helping was given of the cheese and tomato, with cute little pans holding it all together. So far, so excellent.

For the main course, I had Lasagna alla Bolognese. Lasagne's always a tricky one in restaurants because it can turn out either too starchy, or not full enough. In Cacciari's, it was the perfect balance between the two, and the parmesan cheese given to us in a little pot was a more-than-perfect supplement to it. The fusion of meat, cheese and all the other flavours in my lasagne rendered it absolutely delicious, and, with a cold Peroni beer to drink with it, it was a near-on flawless meal. Having been on holiday in Italy last year, the meal I had in Cacciari's last Friday was genuinely the closest thing I've tasted to proper Italian cooking since then.

There was a little beer garden behind the restaurant as well as chairs in front of it, meaning that customers get their choice of places to sit to suit their mood. Whilst lacking the grandeur that many of the other South Kensington restaurants parade about, Cacciari's humble surroundings worked to its advantage; it was a thoroughly unpretentious, value-for-money place to eat in.

The greatest thing about Cacciari's is that it fully goes by the merit of its food & drink, rather than any frilly ornaments. If you remember Theo Randall, which went out of its way to show off how great it was even though the food was less-than-brilliant, Cacciari's is a delightful counterpart; the chairs and glasses in the restaurant are all from Ikea. The setting is cheap and cheerful, and as such, allows the restaurant to focus its attention on the thing that actually matters in a restaurant - the quality of the food. Cacciari's is the closest thing you're going to get to finding a bargain in Kensington; SW7 heaven.

Grade: A.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Restaurant Review: Theo Randall (W1).

In London’s glittering Mayfair sits Theo Randall, a much-lauded Italian restaurant with big-name dishes and even bigger price tags. I had the (dubious) honour of getting to eat there for my friend’s birthday, and, as it was her birthday, it meant someone else was picking up the tab for our meal. So, whilst the prices were extortionate, the best thing that can be said for that place is that at least not a single penny of their bank-breaking bill fell on my back. Ha.

The whole time I was at Theo Randall, I just thought of the Friends episode in which Monica and Phoebe fall out over Phoebe singing her (admittedly bad) songs outside Monica's pretentious, overpriced restaurant. Phoebe makes one jibe about the portions being so tiny that one would need a monocle just to be able to see them, and this fully applies to the food at Theo Randall. For the starter, I ordered mozerella and tomatos, expecting a healthy-sized dish to match the meaty £12 price tag. This was what the reality was:

I mean, I know it's the recession and that, but surely we can do a little bit better than that?! My friend had it worse; she ordered a £15 starter, for which she got a lemon, a smidgeon of mustard and some weird green stuff:
Not impressed at all.

As for the food itself, it tasted fine, some dishes had far too much flavour added to it, others were too dry and bitter. For my main, I had spaghetti with lobster. The lobster was cooked to perfection but the spaghetti was woeful: bland, tasteless and even more stale than a week old Pot Noodle. All that for £34 ladies and gentleman! What a bargain!

The best part of the meal was far and away the dessert, for which I had white peach sorbet ice cream. It was delicious, the perfect line between rich and sweet. Once again, however, the £9 price tag was ridiculous; you can get a much more delicious plate of icecream for cheaper in the actual Haagen Dasz restaurant in Leicester Square.

Thus, for the sake of you and the mortgage that you'll have to take out just to fund a meal here, I say to you: of all the over-priced, overrated restaurants in London's west end, NEVER walk into this one. It may be the last thing you do, financially.

Food: C/C-
Value for money: U
Overall: F

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

This makes my life.

Horrible Bosses (Seth Gordon, 2011)

Childhood friends Nick, Dale and Kurt, once known as the “three musketeers” are still friends into their adulthood, and meet up on a daily basis for a drink and meal at their local bar. Trouble is, whilst their friendship thrives, their work lives leave a lot to be desired. Nick (Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman) works in a corporate environment, with a psychotic boss Dave Harken (played by Kevin Spacey) whom gets arsey if he is so much at 2 minutes late – after 6am. In one scene, Harken entraps him into necking scotch – at 8 in the morning. Nick despises his boss, but puts up with his bullying, knowing – or thinking – that if he takes the shit for a while longer, he will receive the promotion to VP that he has so hardly worked for. That hope, we later find out, turns out to be completely misguided.


Elsewhere, Jason Sudeikis’s Kurt is an account manager at an environmental firm. He enjoys his job, the easy banter he has with cute delivery girls and his rapport with his kind-hearted boss, Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland, in a role much like his in The Italian Job in more ways than one). The only downside to his job is his boss’ cokehead dipshit son (played by an almost unrecognizable Colin Farrell). Luck not being on his side, his boss has a heart attack near the start, leaving the firm in the less-than-capable drug-taking hands of Bobby Pellitt. And finally, and most hilariously, we have Charlie Day as Dale, a dental assistant who’s loving relationship with his sweet fiancée bordering on schmaltz, having to deal with his nympho dentist boss Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston), who spends far more time trying to fill her own cavity than those of her patients.

The premise sounds funny but flaky, but the three beleaguered leads make it work. Jason Bateman is no stranger to awkward comedy, having led Arrested Development for many years, but he of the three is probably the one who “plays it straight” the most. Charlie Day has all the energy and hyperness of a hamster on acid and is by turns lamentable, annoying, and likeable. Jason Sudeikis is given some brilliant one-liners, which he delivers with glee. But just as important – if not more so, are the eponymous bosses. Kevin Spacey’s evil boss is an amalgam of his Keyser Soze as well his sadism in Se7en, but with a terrifically subtle darkly comic side. Colin Farrell’s transformation into his role – hair slicked back, constantly sniffing due to his drug addiction is what characterizes his performance more than any acting he really does. But Jennifer Aniston is superb. I quite liked her in Friends, although considered the other five of the cast all better than her, and have been less-than-impressed with her film CV so far, but in Horrible Bosses, her dedication to her role as the crazy bitch sex addict is second-to-none. In one scene, she traps poor Dale in her office, where she is wearing nothing more than panties, suspenders, and her dentist’s uniform. Dale tells her that her lack of clothing/nudity is crossing some kind of line. Julia argues otherwise. “Can you see my pussy?!” In another scene, she brags who she masturbated so furiously to gossip girl’s Penn Badgley that “[she] broke a nail.” It’s a fair cry from the clean-cut Rachel Green that we’re still used to thinking of Aniston as, but without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the best film performance she’s given to date.

There are laughs to be had elsewhere. As the three men get increasingly riled with their ridiculously horrible bosses, the idea is banded about of killing them off. At first, it’s in the name of banter, but as their working lives becoming escalatingly awful, they realize they are left with little option. So they go to a dodgy part of California, wherein they are introduced to Jamie Foxx’s “hitman”. Foxx himself is a revelation; we’ve seen him excel in the serious supporting role (Any Given Sunday, Collateral), and take the lead exceptionally too (Ray), but here, as surly criminal Motherfucker Jones, he is a joy.

Horrible Bosses has overtones of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, played for laughs, and with lots of dirty sex jokes along the way. Unlike the majority of films which attempt to amalgamate the comedy and crime genres, only to fail miserably, Horrible Bosses is a roaring success. Much of this owes to the glittering A-list cast and their not being embarrassed to look stupid on stage, but the writing is also excellent, and I received more than one surprise at the plot development of the film (one scene, so out of place, so sudden, and so shocking, surprised me so much in a way that I hadn’t been so taken aback since *that* scene in 2005’s Cache.) Clever nods to pop culture and a brilliant reverse-product placement gag at Toyota are littered around the film, leading me to feel it really is smarter than the majority of critics have written it of as The film takes dark issues such as murder, rape and blackmail and makes a gigantic joke out of it all. Some have not been impressed by this approach, but I found the film an unparallel treat; and was chuckling from start to finish. My favourite film of 2011 so far.