Sunday, 25 September 2011

Film Review: Horrible Bosses

Nick (Bateman) has been stuck in the same middle-management position for eight-years. During this time he has suffered the supercilious toying at the hands of his micromanaging asshole boss, Dave Harken (Spacey). Friend Dale (Day) is engaged and works as a dental hygienist. But this matters not to his nymphomaniac boss Julia (Anniston) who sexually harasses him everyday. Other friend Kurt (Sudeikis) however enjoys his job and has a good relationship with his boss (Sutherland). That is until he unexpectedly dies and his coke-snorting, douchebag son (Farrell) takes charge and begins using the company as his own personal cash point. Deciding enough is enough, the tormented trio of twits hatch upon a plan to murder their Horrible Bosses.

As comedies about dippy suburban white boys who get themselves into awkward situations and have an aneurysm whenever they're around black people go, Horrible Bosses isn't bad. The best things about it is the chemistry between the three under trodden main characters. And to be honest it needed to be good, because even by the 'who cares, it's Hollywood just being crazy again' standard, Horrible Bosses is a little bit ridiculous. Certainly it's funny, but the premise of revenge against three nasty bosses had much more potential to be even funnier and is something never really capitalised upon. You'll mildly chuckle throughout, but this is seldom ingeniously hilarious. This is because there seems to be an energy missing here, in need of a turbo button to really propel this forward. Horrible Bosses lack of such a booster is where it falls short.

The main source of this problem is the amount of characters involved making it difficult for the film to focus. As such there is a discernible lack of character development, particularly regarding the otherwise interesting evil bosses. Yes, it is clear they are assholes, but you just want to see more of them in order to truly convince you how much they deserve their comeuppance. Most of all you just which they had more screen time for the lols as they are genuinely good characters. Because Horrible Bosses never really sticks too closely to any one of them it unfortunately means that none of them will leave a lasting impression. However, this is more the script's fault than it is the actors which wastes an otherwise brilliant ensemble.

And it is an excellent cast. Bateman is the anchor and voice of sanity, delivering an understated deadpan performance which effuses a basic likability which is never compromised by overplaying his role. Unlikely ladykiller Sudeikis is a lot of fun as the enthusiastic 'doer' of the trio, however Day is the only cast member which lets the film down as his squeaky little voice begins to grate very quickly. And yet their chemistry bubbles where the funniest thing about this group of super friends is what they have in common: how pathetic all three of them are. Clearly never having hurt a fly in their life, murdering someone proves to be more difficult than they first thought. As such they hire the services of a 'professional', the wonderfully named 'Motherfucker Jones' hilariously played by Jamie Foxx. Like them, he's also an idiot, but still a lot smarter than our hapless heroes.

The biggest draw however are their three bosses. Spacey is the main focus and is excellent throughout as you'd expect as a total psychotic dick. What's disappointing however is how the script has him descend into an abyss of unconvincing evil absurdity. While Spacey never struggles with the material, it is the material which proves to be one of the film's underpinnings with its unbelievable farce. Jennifer Anniston has never looked hotter, and if you were a bloke ever fantasising to be sexually harassed at work she would be your ultimate fantasy. She's saccharine and actually seems to be enjoying the role. It's also more entertaining than her usual dull girl-next-door romcom antics. Colin Farrell's substance abusing, asian hooker loving sleaze bag glimmers in the few scenes he's in, but unfortunately like Anniston he barely registers in the film. It is this which is the most disappointing part about Horrible Bosses. Yes, they're horrible, but we never really learn anything about them due to the lack of their own story arcs.

If I were to be really pretentiously profound I could quite happily argue that Horrible Bosses' rests on the basic appeal to the under trodden masses' imagination of overthrowing their slave masters. Films like this, one might contend, exist to oil the capitalist engine and keep it running, to make sure the cogs in the machine continue to operate smoothly. It offers brief respite and escapism before you're thrown back into reality on Monday morning for long hours and underpaid drudgery. Of course the proletariat will never rise up in reality because they have far more to lose than their chains, but you've got to admire its balls; the system is really rather clever. However that's debate to do with social conditioning and propaganda for another time.

-Goes back to reading his little red book-

But this is a lightweight comedy, not a doctoral thesis. The script is the film's weak point, never justifying anything which compromises something that could have been a memorable farce, however there are plenty of laughs with a couple of moments of genuine hilarity. It's also a lot better than some of its counterparts (I'm looking at you, Due Date and Hall Pass). This is undeniably undemanding fun, but it's hardly memorable. Unfortunately, Horrible Bosses just seems stuck somewhere in middle-management hoping for a promotion.