The concept for Horrible Bosses is not that fresh: a trio of buddies want their evil bosses dead and set out to have them killed. Thanks to the cast, much of the comedy works and a lot of laughs are to be had. Unfortunately, the movie stops being funny once it hits the third act, turns into complete rubbish, and never recovers. Instead of leaving the theatre chuckling and smiling, I left wondering where it went wrong.
As noted, this movie relies heavily on the acting chops of its A-list cast rather than a solidly written script. The three employees, played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day, and the three insane bosses, played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell, are perfectly cast.
Spacey’s part is similar to the nasty Hollywood producer he played in Swimming With Sharks (1994) and he’s just as great to watch here as in that film. Bateman and Day stay in their safe zones and, while funny, don’t add anything special. Sudeikis is quickly becoming one of my favourite comic actors and pretty much every line he says made me laugh.
The true standouts though are Aniston and Farrell. Her foul-mouthed skanky dentist role is so raunchy that she may have shed her Rachel image from Friends once and for all. Farrell appears to have been channelling Michael Keaton’s performance in Beetlejuice: he’s got a big belly, thinned-out hair, and is constantly high on cocaine and spouting off bizarre things.
Director Seth Gordon has an interesting track record. Other than his breakout documentary The King of Kong, he’s worked on TV shows like The Office and Community, and made the not-so-funny holiday film Four Christmases. For him to head a comedy of this size is a mystery, and the issues I had near the end could be attributed to his lack of experience directing feature comedies. Put someone like Todd Phillips behind the camera and this could have been the comedy of the year.
I didn’t hate Horrible Bosses and for a lot of the early scenes I was near tears from laughter. And to be fair, the audience in the theatre seemed to enjoy it all the way through. I just feel that if you’re looking for a solid comedy, your money would be better spent on Bridesmaids or Bad Teacher, and Horrible Bosses would be a better DVD rental.
Cast: Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Colin Farrell, Jaimie Foxx
Directed by: Seth Gordon
Top image: A scene from Horrible Bosses. Courtesy Warner Bros.