Horrible Bosses is, in many ways, this year’s Couples Retreat — amazing ensemble cast, clever premise, Jason Bateman, tremendous potential…and disappointing result. To be fair, it’s a lot funnier than Couples Retreat (not difficult), but Horrible Bosses never reaches the heights it could have soared to.
Anyone who has ever worked for a shitty boss can relate to the premise of this film — Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis (Hall Pass) and Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) are friends with horrible bosses: the tormenting maniac Kevin Spacey, the douchebag Colin Farrell and the harassing nympho Jennifer Aniston. Their lives are hell and they dream of killing their respective bosses, leading them to procure the services of ex-con Jamie Foxx. The plot starts off being somewhat cookie cutter but to the writers’ credit it went places I didn’t expect it to.
A friend of mine who saw the movie before me found it funny but had problems with the swearing and crudity. He’s not alone as there have been reports of senior citizens walking out in the middle of the movie. Jennifer Aniston in particular tries to shed her good girl image with lots of raunchy dialogue. Personally, I didn’t have a whole lot of problem with the swearing and crudity — what irritated me more was that it wasn’t particularly funny, or at least not enough of it was. The scenarios were there, the set ups were there, but the jokes lacked the finishing punch.
It’s a shame, because Horrible Bosses has one of the best comedic line ups of the year. The three main leads play to their strengths. Bateman is the regular straight-faced, dead-pan character (which works so well for him), Sudeikis is, like he was in Hall Pass, sleazy and a bit of a sexual deviant, and Day is his usual high-pitched, freaking-out self that we know from It’s Always Sunny. The bosses are indeed horrible and serve their purpose, but aren’t that funny. Spacey makes you believe he is real (in fact he reminds me of a few real people), Farrell is physically impressive but just okay, and Aniston is not bad, but may be trying too hard at times. Foxx is probably the highlight despite limited screen time.
I’m not sure what exactly went wrong with Horrible Bosses. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed a few times and I enjoyed bits and pieces of it. Dreaming of killing your boss is a deliciously wicked idea, and watching three bumbling idiots trying to get it done is pretty funny. But at the end of the film I sat there wondering why I didn’t find it funnier.
2.5 stars out of 5