Capsule reviews of films opening this week:
"Horrible Bosses" — This raunchy buddy comedy wallows in silliness — gleefully, and without an ounce of remorse or self-consciousness — and even though you're a grown-up and you know you should know better, you will be happy to wallow right along as well. It's a film that's wildly, brazenly stupid — but also, you know, fun. Because like "Bad Teacher," "Horrible Bosses" knows exactly what it is and doesn't aspire to be anything more, and that lack of pretention is refreshing. It isn't trying to say anything profound about society or the economy or the fragile psyche of the post-modern man. It's about three guys who hate their jobs and want to kill their bosses. And really, who among us hasn't pondered such a plan? Naturally, no member of this trio is nearly as clever or sophisticated as he thinks he is. Together, they bumble and bungle every step of the way and occasionally, by accident, they get something right. But the dynamic between Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day as they bounce off each other is cheerfully loony, and the energy of their banter (which often feels improvised) has enough of an infectious quality to make you want to forgive the film's general messiness. Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston, as the titular bosses, are clearly enjoying the freedom of playing such showy, inappropriate characters. R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material. 98 minutes. Three stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Ironclad" — Cynically conjured as a kind of medieval "300," this is an utterly joyless exercise in blood and dirt. It's set amid the post-Magna Carta tumult of 1215 England, where King John (Paul Giamatti) is on a murderous rampage, out for vengeance on those who signed the famous charter. A band of rebels endeavors to stop him at Rochester, where a gray monolith of a castle presides. In "Seven Samurai" style, Baron Albany (Brian Cox) gathers a band of warriors, chief among them Templar Thomas Marshall (James Purfoy). The rebels are outnumbered 1,000 to 20, a brave ratio that nevertheless falls well shy on the Courage-O-Meter. (It was 300 vs. 1 million in "300.") In the ensuing fight, there is much blood-spilling. There is horse-eating and live pig-burning. There is beheading, behanding, befooting and even betonguing. Raging tyrant would seem a perfect role for Giamatti — here with blond hair and headband, like the medieval brother of Bjorn Borg — but he's left mainly alone on the outside of the castle. The sense of history is as muddied as the battlefield. R for strong, graphic and brutal battle sequences, and brief nudity. 120 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer
"John Carpenter's The Ward"— When you go to a horror movie that's set in a mental institution, you know things aren't going to turn out the way they initially seem. We are dealing with insane characters here, and the presumption that they provide an unreliable perspective creates a prime opportunity for filmmakers to mess with us, too, and challenge our own sense of perspective. So it's no big shocker that the women of "The Ward" may not be exactly who we thought they were. But ... who they end up being is so ludicrous, it might just make you angry, or at least cackle at the brazenness of it all. The big twist is just part of a stiff and artificial script that even a horror master like John Carpenter — because this is "John Carpenter's The Ward," after all — can't overcome. The director of "The Fog," "The Thing," "Christine" and the original "Halloween" hasn't made a feature film in over a decade, and while there is still clearly a sense of craft here and a few decent jumps, this doesn't even come close to rising to the level of his greatest work. Amber Heard, Mamie Gummer, Danielle Panabaker, Lyndsy Fonseca and Laura-Leigh star as patients who are haunted by something going bump in the night. R for violence and disturbing images. 87 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic
"Zookeeper" — Movies where humans and animals converse are a bad idea in principle, and this Kevin James comedy is not here to prove that interspecies ensembles have simply been a misunderstood, underappreciated subgenre. It's as dumb as they come, the movie that finally allows Adam Sandler to lend annoying voice to a Capuchin monkey as it talks incessantly about flinging poop around. This is a comedy whose filmmakers know what they want — stupid gags and obnoxious slapstick — and goes for it without restraint. James is dopily likable as the title guy able to commune with his zoo critters, which try to help him win back an old flame (Leslie Bibb). Yet his character and the other humans are so thinly drawn that a melancholy gorilla voiced by Nick Nolte shows more personality and comes off as the movie's highest primate. Rosario Dawson co-stars among the human cast, while the animals speak in a variety of famous Hollywood players' voices — Cher, Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Jon Favreau, Judd Apatow. As the monkey, Sandler seems to be aiming for a screechy impersonation of Gilbert Gottfried, in case that's something you've been dying to hear. PG for some rude and suggestive humor, and language. 104 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
— David Germain, AP Movie Writer