Friday, 12 August 2011

Horrible Bosses (2011)

Image: Warner Bros

Comic book movies aside, it’s been a summer of big-grossing R-rated comedies, with The Hangover Part 2 and Bridesmaids scoring big at the box office. Now it’s Horrible Bosses’ turn to try its hand.

Nick (Jason Bateman) toils away for slave-driving psycho Harken (Kevin Spacey). Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) has to deal with Pellit (Colin Farrell), the sleazy cokehead who’s just inherited the business. And Dale (Charlie Day) is being sexually harassed by the voracious Julia (Jennifer Aniston). The three friends decide to kill their bosses, but it’s not going to be easy.

In terms of attracting an audience, the biggest draw is clearly supposed to be the bosses themselves, with Farrell, Spacey and Aniston cutting loose and hamming it up gleefully. But it’s the actors playing the hapless trio of employees that are the best reason to watch Horrible Bosses

Bateman (Juno) has been in need of a really good starring vehicle since the much mourned Arrested Development, and although this isn’t it, he shares a great chemistry with his two co-stars. Sudeikis (SNL, Hall Pass) brings an easy charm to his sleazier character, while Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) is very funny indeed as the skittish and naive Dale. Jamie Foxx also scores laughs as their “murder consultant” Motherfucker Jones. 

The general plot is pretty dark stuff, but director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong, Four Christmases) keeps the pace brisk and avoids dwelling on anything too mean-spirited (well, mostly). The film works best when it allows the three leads room to riff off each other. A succession of well-constructed in-jokes, quick-fire dialogue, and obscure movie references (Snow Falling on Cedars, anyone?) make their scenes tremendously enjoyable. Things get a little trickier when we’re asked to believe that a trio this likeable and relatable could seriously consider murdering anyone. They’re still good when they’re split up, but the scenes with their bosses grow repetitive. We get it: Spacey’s evil, Aniston’s a nymphomaniac, and Farrell is repulsive (although the latter gets a lot less screen-time). 

It’s let down by a disappointing ending and there are surprisingly few big laughs, but if you’re looking for an entertaining way to pass 90-odd minutes, Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day make it worth your time. 

Verdict: Funny, but not hysterical, it’s the three on-form lead actors that are worth paying to see.

3/5

JH

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