Bad bosses get job done
Starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx. Written by Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein, directed by Seth Gordon. 98 minutes, Rated R, showing at Reading Cinemas Porirua.
Everybody’s looking for the next The Hangover – but even the sequel to that chuckle-fest shows how tricky it is to capture comedic lightning in a bottle.
Horrible Bosses has arrived with plenty of buzz – its script about three harassed workers who decide to kill each other’s nasty employers was worthy of the famed Black List (the most hip, most coveted projects in Hollywood), and the premise bears an undeniably attractive and relatable hook.
Who hasn’t had a boss or workmate who’s made their life or workplace miserable?
To this end, Horrible Bosses succeeds as a profane buddy comedy in which three mates lose their moral compass and find themselves up to their eyeballs in sticky situations – hence The Hangover comparison. But whereas that movie soared due to the memorable anguish experienced by its leading lads, who we came to love, Horrible Bosses’ three battlers fail to engage. Only their antagonistic oppressors leave a lasting impression.
Studious straight-arrow Nick ( Jason Bateman) is denied the promotion he deserves at a finance company when his boss, played by Kevin Spacey, snatches the vice-president’s hat himself, including the extra office space and salary that come with it. Wimpish dental assistant Dale (Charlie Day) is forever sexually harassed and degraded by Jennifer Aniston’s Dr Harris – such as squirting water at his crouch.
Kurt ( Jason Sudeikis), meanwhile, loves his accountant’s job at a chemical company, until his boss dies suddenly and the business falls into the clutches of his mean-hearted, cocaine-addled son (Colin Farrell).
The three things I take away from Horrible Bosses are: Spacey plays an excellent bastard, but we already know this from the far superior and black-as-hell employee revenge tale Swimming With Sharks; kudos to Jennifer Aniston for finally finding a character who isn’t a rehash of Rachel from Friends; and Farrell is an absolute riot as a combed-over, kung-fu coke head.
Director Seth Gordon’s work on TV shows The Office ( US version) and Modern Family shows he knows how to bring the laughs – and he brings plenty here – but they don’t mean much when you care little about the characters. Nick, Dale and Kurt exist only to resolve their workplace strife, we know bugger all else about them.
While Day brings his usual cracked-voice anxiety – think Michael Cera meets ‘ Bobcat’ Goldthwait ( the nut from Police Academy) – to his part, Bateman and Sudeikis’ checkshirt stooges are almost indistinguishable. I love Bateman as a comic actor but it’s frustrating that none of his film work is a patch on his old show Arrested Development.
Man eater: Charlie Day’s meek dental assistant is pushed to outlandish limits by his predatory boss (Jennifer Aniston).