Directed by: Seth Gordon
Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis
Hollywood has very recently gotten back on track in terms of producing above average comedies, relying more on a functional blend of humor and a heart to engross viewers from multiple angles. Over the past few years, a heavy amount of borrowing has inevitably ensued, and although studios have done a fine enough job at pleasing a target demographic, even the newer, more effective formulas have begun to feel a little stale. Fortunately for us, this year’s Bridesmaids helped reestablish my faith in the genre, leaving the rest of 2011’s hopefuls aiming to match if not surpass the film’s comedic prowess. Seth Gordon’s Horrible Bosses, while appropriately outlandish and consistently funny from start to finish, suffers from several noticeable missteps that keep it from being everything it could have been.
Who wouldn’t want to rid their office of a far less than desirable boss? Since that’s putting it as lightly as humanly possible, it’s easy to determine just how severe Nick, Kurt and Dale’s troubles are regarding their superiors. Having each reached a noticeable breaking point, the trio does the unthinkable in seeking out someone to “off” them, that is until they approach the wrong individual to help them do so. Forced to take matters into their own hands, many an over-the-top scenario plays out as the central characters inch ever closer to completing the grim task at hand.
Since shock value and vulgarity usually maintain an intended positive effect on audiences, it’s safe to say that each and every situation these characters find themselves in becomes increasingly more ridiculous as Horrible Bosses‘ oddly gratifying climax draws nearer. With a central premise as simple yet undeniably far-fetched as this, one may automatically assume that if the film can’t immediately make up for its overt silliness via elongated fits of laughter, the film will inevitably fail and end up as just another indiscernible blip on 2011’s radar. Thankfully, a colorful cast of characters and some of the aforementioned ridiculousness coinciding with a scatterbrained yet wildly entertaining script triumphantly overcome many a flaw that would allow Horrible Bosses to succumb to such an unfortunate fate.
Enjoyable as it is for the most part, it’s easy to see how vastly flawed Horrible Bosses is outside of an appealing sense of unpredictability. In fact, if it weren’t for the characters themselves and the individuals portraying said oddballs, the production really wouldn’t have much of leg left to stand on. Aniston, Farrell and Spacey portray their scummy onscreen counterparts so well that the chemistry exhibited between them and their fictional understudies is easily worth the price of admission alone, in spite of how generally fun the film often is. This is mind, Bateman and Sudeikis hold their own and continue to prove to themselves and others that their abilities as comedic actors far surpass that of even the third musketeer here, Charlie Day, who’s revealed to me that several portrayals of Charlie from It’s Always Sunny has become a bit superfluous and aggravating as such. One bad batch can’t necessarily destroy the entire crop, so his efforts are negligible regardless of a few laughs the character himself procures.
All in all, Horrible Bosses can’t really hold a candle to the slightly less raunchy, more heartfelt comedies that we’ve been graced with over the past few years. Laugh out loud as many a moment may be, the script itself eventually comes off as derivative and a bit too ridiculous given the appeal other films of its type, Bridesmaids included, carry with them. Luckily, the efforts of a magnificently well-rounded cast aid in carrying Horrible Bosses through to its end, and although it’ll most likely be forgotten in the coming months, to say that this entry into the recently established off-the-wall comedy subgenre is, well, horrible would be unjust to say the least.