Horrible Bosses, 2011.
Written and Directed by Seth Gordon.
Starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx.
Three friends conspire to murder each of their horrible bosses.
Sometimes a cast can really say it all. You see a comedy with the cast/comedic pedigree of Horrible Bosses and your ticket’s often bought before your give the premise any thought whatsoever – Arrested Development, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 30 Rock, SNL to name a few. But fortunately this film has a really simple, but profoundly universal premise; have you had a horrible boss that you perhaps fantasized about murdering? Well maybe not murder, just hurt, cause pain yeah? Just me? Leave me hanging? Jerks.
Anyway back to the review – the trio of leads are Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day. Each of these guys has a boss that is making their life hell in one way or another. After a drunken visit to the wrong side of town, where they consult with their fantastic “murder consultant” Jamie Foxx, they decide that they should ‘Strangers on a Train‘ it and kill each other’s bosses.
This is a really funny and light film for the subject matter. All of the performances are great – mainly because the two of trio of leads were cast for their established comedic personas/styles. Nick Hendricks – Jason Bateman is in his established ‘Michael Bluth’ mode and I could watch his continual awkward struggle in any film. He delivers another well timed and subtle reactionary comedic performance. Dale Arbus – Charlie Day brings his ‘Always Sunny‘ game to this role. People unfamiliar with his work will be surprised at his great timing and ability to become the butt of all the great jokes in a comedy where everyone is on their game. This year audiences couldn’t wait to get along to The Hangover Part 2 for Zack Galifinakis’ Alan – but if you want to see an equally iconic, and great performance – Charlie Day is hilarious.
The shining star of this film for me however is Kurt Buckman – Jason Sudeikis. He is phenomenal as the cocksure ladies man. He has a great cheek and attitude that glues the trio. Unlike say Bradley Cooper’s ‘Phil’ in The Hangover – Sudeikis is much more of an everyman and it makes him vastly more charming. He’s also demonstrated unbelievable versatility, cultivated in the improvisational petri dish of SNL / 30 Rock. Watch this space, he’s going to be one of the biggest names in American cinematic comedy in a few years.
And its goes without saying that the antagonists of the film have to be fantastic; and this film has great comedic performers in spades.
Kevin Spacey is the manipulative, greedy, apathetic psychotic boss of Jason Bateman’s character. For anyone whose seen the great (and vastly more serious) Swimming with Sharks – expect a very similar kind of crazy boss from Spacey here.
Colin Farrell is fantastic as the sleazy, douchebag coke head boss – Bobby Pellitt – of Kurt Buckman. I think that Farrell is a ridiculously underrated actor, and comedic talent. You only have to see the great and dark In Bruges (which he won a Golden Globe for) to see how great his timing is. He delivers here in spades so much that I will say that I would have liked to see a little more off him in the flick (stick around for the credits for some hilarious improv out-takes from Farrell).
Now the revelatory performance from the bosses comes from Jennifer Aniston – Julia Harris – Dale’s boss. She is fantastic as the crazy, manipulative nymphomaniac. For those haters of Friends and her other studio comedies – this is a stark contrast to anything I’ve seen her in, in the past (and no it’s not she because you see her in her underpants). Day and Aniston have a great interplay and chemistry and it’s a highlight.
Finally Jamie Foxx perfectly embodies their murder consultant. The man is a comedian first, and phenomenal Oscar winning actor second – effortlessly good, and scene stealing.
The script is fun and the direction extracts phenomenal comedic performances from everyone involved. This film was an embarrassment of riches in the casting, premise and calibre of director, Seth Gordon (see King of Kong).
Horrible Bosses is this years The Hangover. It is an absolute cracker. It is not the funniest film I’ve seen this year; but it is probably the funnest Hollywood comedy this year and I’ll definitely be seeing it again at the pictures – with tentative intention to revisit it on DVD.
Blake Howard is a writer/site director/podcaster at the castleco-op.com.