Jennifer Aniston – an actor seen frequently doing great work in poor films, sometimes excellent work in good films, and occasionally, amazing work in excellent films. How are we to know this prolific and skilled artist’s full range? We’ll just have to watch all of her films. After a 2016-shaped hiatus, Aniston of the Week is back, and this time, it’s Horrible Bosses 2.  

FILM: Horrible Bosses 2 Jen and razor
DIRECTOR: Sean Anders
YEAR: 2014
SCREENWRITER: Sean Anders and John Morris, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Markowitz
PLOT SUMMARY: Julia is a Dentist and a sex addict. In Horrible Bosses 1, she sexually harassed her employee Dale (Charlie Day), making his work environment unbearable. Here, her workplace is broken into when the three idiots (Dale, Nick – Jason Bateman and Kurt – Jason Sudeikis) intend to steal Nitrous Oxide in order to kidnap the son of the man who ruined their business. The break-in is interrupted by Julia’s sex addiction meeting, which she brings to a swift end when Nick gatecrashes it, pretends to confess to homosexual affairs and enables her sex fantasy of ‘turning’ him. Later, when the three idiots enact an even more elaborate plot to pursue their kidnapping plans, Julia – having discovered the break-in on CCTV – tries to blackmail Dale into having sex with her. To her, his penis is ‘the white whale’ and she wants it or she’ll send all three idiots to jail. Dale dupes her and they get away. Finally, Having utterly failed to carry out their idiot plot, Dale is left unconscious having been shot and Julia visits him in hospital, claiming that while he was under, she took advantage of his involuntary erections during his comatose state. horrible-bosses-2-charlie-day-jennifer-aniston
CHARACTER TRAITS: Single minded, narcissistic, manipulative, predatory, vengeful.
NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Aniston clearly had fun playing such a problematic character in Horrible Bosses and came back for more. She appears totally comfortable with the character, effortlessly conniving and portraying what I assume she rationalised is ‘naughty’ behaviour, when in fact it’s cruel and deeply unfunny.
NOTES ON FILM: The Horrible Bosses films perpetuate stereotypes about masculinity, about race and about female sexuality. They have rape jokes, which, just to be totally clear – are never funny – and feature most of the cast performing beneath their capabilities. The premise of Aniston’s character being funny is that an attractive woman with a sex addiction is something men should be grateful for, because of course, men aren’t allowed to feel victimised by predatory women – then they would seem weak. Yes, female on male rape is much rarer than male on female rape, but it does happen, it is real and the consequences are just as devastating for victims. That this is a studio film that made hundreds of millions of dollars and was written and directed by straight, white, cis men is exactly what’s wrong with Hollywood.
CONCLUSION: Please Aniston, do better.


Aniston of the week: The Switch

This is one of the few Aniston film’s this writer has watched more than once, probably due, not only to Jennifer’s charisma, but the presence of Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis in the cast. A silly plot, conventionally structured, but clearly it’s got through to me somehow. 00031357

FILM: The Switch
Josh Gordan, Will Speck
Kassie and Wally (Jason Bateman, later seen with Aniston in Horrible Bosses) are best friends who once dated. Kassie wants to have a baby, and being single, decides to use a sperm donor. At her artificial insemination party, Wally gets very drunk and destroys the sperm sample. He switches it for his own ‘sample’ and forgets about it due to his ridiculous hangover. Kassie moves away from NYC to raise her son. Seven years later, she moves back to the city and reconnects with Wally. He notices that he and Kassie’s son Sebastien (Thomas Robinson) share are lot of the same anxieties and idiosyncrasies. Figuring out he must be the father, Wally decides to pursue Kassie, for whom he has always had feelings.

Aniston with Bateman as Wally

CHARACTER TRAITS: Strong willed, nurturing, witty, and ambitious.
Aniston is mainly required to be charming here, and she demonstrates a convincing motherly chemistry with Robinson, as well as a sort of endearing, exasperation with Bateman’s Wally.

When your best friend behaves like an idiot, you’re all like…

NOTES ON FILM: I like to imagine (as I have before) how different this Aniston film would be, if it were told from her character’s perspective. Single mother has her pregnancy hijacked by her ‘best friend’ and struggles to reconcile her feelings for him, while dating the man she thought was her son’s father. What about her insecurities, her dilemma of what to do for her son? Instead it’s essentially all about sperm, and a man’s ‘right’ to his child. Well, you could read it that way, annoyingly it’s also very enjoyable in parts and has the kind of happy ending that only works because the performances – Aniston, Bateman and Robinson – are so convincing.
A hugely watchable Aniston outing.

Aniston of the Week: Horrible Bosses

This week, a ‘comedy’ in which Aniston plays against type, demonstrates the ignorance and insensitivity of mainstream Hollywood. It’s hard to enjoy her obvious comic skill when it’s presented in such a problematic way. Nevertheless, C.I endures, and watches anyway.

Aniston as Dr Julia Harris

FILM: Horrible Bosses
DIRECTOR: Seth Gordon
Dr Julia Harris, Doctor of Dental Surgery.
Three men who hate their bosses but for various reason cannot quit their jobs, decide to murder them instead. Nick (Jason Bateman) works for Dave Harken, who insists he works all hours of the day for a promotion that doesn’t exist and makes it impossible for him to get another job. Kurt works for Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell), a coke addict, who uses his office as a sex den, seemingly. Aniston plays the boss of Dale (Charlie Day) whom she sexually harasses and blackmails.
Irresponsible, unethical, inappropriate, rapist (she undresses and puts Dale, and other patients in sexual positions whilst they’re unconscious, she grabs his penis against his will). The film labels her as a ‘Crazy Bitch.’

Aniston with Charlie Day as Dale

NOTES ON PERFORMANCE: Aniston was celebrated for her portrayal of Julia, as it appeared she was playing against the ‘girl-next-door’ image she’d become known for. While it’s true that Aniston utterly convinces as the cruel, manipulative character she portrays, she’s also very much exploited for her attractiveness, which is a deeply problematic treatment of someone who harasses and violates her junior at work.
By all counts, Horrible Bosses is a truly terrible film. Three white men solicit advice from a black man to give them advice about how to kill their bosses. There are numerous gay jokes and rape jokes. Aniston’s entire character is demonstrable of how Hollywood enforces the notion that female on male rape is somehow a joke/a good thing/impossible. She’s made the object of a male gaze, and it’s constantly suggested that Dale should be grateful for the attention he’s getting from her because she’s so ‘hot’.

Horrible Bosses 2 Stills 2014 HD Wallpapers
L-R Jamie Foxx as Dean ‘Muthafucka’ Jones, Charlie Day as Dale, Jason Sudeikis as Kurt and Jason Bateman as Nick

Furthermore, though Dale confronts her, asking to work in a ‘rape free’ environment, it’s not the sexual harassment that’s presented as a problem for him, it’s the threat that Julia makes to tell his fiancée that they’ve slept together. The screenplay attempts to extracts laughs from a scenario in which a man is made to feels he’s unable to confide in his fiancée something that negatively affects his daily life. That’s not funny, it’s a tragedy. Finally, Aniston’s character is the only female to have any significant screen time – the rest are either naïve, unfaithful or exploited for a fat joke.

CONCLUSION: Apparently another rape scene was deleted from Horrible Bosses 2. Can’t wait to see what they left in.