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Horrible Bosses Movie Review - -

Horrible Bosses
Reviewed by Damien Straker on August 17th, 2011
Roadshow Films
presents a film directed by Seth Gordon
Screenplay by Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein
Starring: Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston
Running Time: 98 minutes
Rating: MA
Released: August 25th, 2011



Three friends are being taunted at work by their merciless bosses. Nick (Jason Bateman) works in an office and is bullied by Dave (Kevin Spacey). Dale (Charlie Day), who is engaged, is a nurse resisting the advances of dentist Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston). And Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) is employed in a chemical factory. He’s tormented by his new boss Bobby (Colin Farrell), who has taken over, after his own father (Donald Sutherland) dies in a car accident. He’s a sex and drugs maniac. These blokes are so frustrated with their jobs that they plot to kill their bosses and decide to hire a hitman to help them. They are ripped off by a criminal who calls himself ‘Motherfucker’ (Jamie Foxx) because he takes their money, only to give them some limp advice. They decide that they will kill each other’s boss themselves so that there won’t be any motives or links to the crimes.

Why doesn’t this fleeting comedy work? It has several heavyweight names attached to it and a concept that I am sure many people would find agreeable. The problem here is with the bosses themselves and the type of comedy that director Seth Gordon (Community) has tried to employ. Like so many American comedies it relies too much on obvious humour and implausible dialogue. Each of the three bosses is so extreme and unlikely that any credibility is taken out of the picture. The way they speak and act in this film is out of touch with reality. Take Jennifer Aniston’s character in her first scene. While standing over an unconscious patient, she starts telling Dale about her nether region and starts squirting his pants with water to see his penis. And in a later scene she traps Dale in her office, while wearing nothing but her underpants and a white coat. It’s an embarrassing and thankless role that’s neither funny nor clever. It borders precariously on offensive. Spacey and Farrell are equally cartoonish too. I didn’t buy for a second the way that Dave spoke to Nick in the office, calling him his ‘bitch’, saying that he owns him and literally knocking down walls so that he can extend his own office. Farrell probably gets the least amount of time and his order for Kurt to fire some of the fat people and disabled people makes him a pretty lame villain. Adding to the woes is the film’s tendency to make light of subjects like rape and sex offenders. A running ‘joke’ in the film is that Dale is a registered sex offender because he urinated one night in a playground. Ultimately, the first quarter of this film is diabolically unfunny.

What’s also a stretch for the plot is that the boys never approach any other method of dealing with their problems. No one else in the office seems to notice or talk about this outlandish behaviour. There doesn’t seem to be anyone to complain to. The jump to murder is a pretty extreme and ridiculous conclusion. Perhaps if the boys had more of a life outside of work they wouldn’t be so miserable. The characters are underwritten because apart from Dale being engaged they don’t seem to have inner lives outside of their jobs. They don’t have any other friends and they spend most of their time together eating and drinking at a bar. But thankfully, very thankfully, what saves the film are some of the laughs that come in the second half. I don’t know a lot about Charlie Day but this guy does hysteria very well and he actually made me laugh more times than I expected at that point. And it’s a shame Jamie Foxx doesn’t have more scenes because he’s actually a great asset to the film too. His scenes are funny because he plays the comedy straight, trying to be a tough gangster figure. This gives the boys something to play off because they’re chatty but trying to take him seriously. Just listen to the way Bateman tries to address him by his street name ‘Motherfucker’. The way he drops that line is just hilarious and I wish the film gave him more of this deadpan humour to work with. He really needed more jokes in this film. And given the way that the film ends on a very mean-spirited note I can’t recommend it on just a handful of big laughs.


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