To say I was expecting a lot going into watching Horrible Bosses, would be a lie. I was expecting a typical American rude comedy, and the only one of the leads I knew was Jason Bateman, and even then I wouldn’t say I was a ‘fan’! Fortunately, the other two leads and the three titular bosses, made for a very good black comedy, a rare feat in modern cinema, however it isn’t completely perfect, but still earns its place amongst the best comedies of 2011.
The story starts with the aforementioned Bateman, dental nurse Jason Day and chemical waste employee, Jason Sudeikis, and how their bosses give them absolute hell. Instantly, the story strikes a chord with the audience, and with the appearances of two reasonably unknown, outside of America anyway, comedians in Day and Sudeikis, perhaps, the audience can relate more with them. If, as planned earlier in the film’s 6-year development, that stars like Ryan Reynolds and Owen Wilson were cast for the roles, perhaps this wouldn’t work as well, due to the instant recognition that those types of actors provide. The three friends hatch a plan, to kill their bosses, and from then on the frenetic pace of the 93 minute film, about as short as it gets, builds and builds.
The three bosses, are all brilliant. The big names of Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell all represent the three men’s vision of hell, and each plays to their roles fantastically. Spacey has dangled the carrot of a promotion over Bateman’s character for 6 years, but then decides to award it to himself. Day is the assistant to Aniston’s dentist, who likes to initimidate him with her sexual nature, whilst Farrell is the coke-fuelled son of Sudeikis’ ex-boss who passed away with a heart-attack. Spacey is the best boss, as his personal life is explored in much further detail, and he is the one the audience will truly love to hate. Jennifer Aniston takes a huge step out of her comfort zone of generic rom-coms, since the demise of ‘Friends’, to become the exact opposite, a sex-fuelled pest who attempts blackmail, and generally messes with Charlie Day’s mousy character. Farrell appears the least out of the three, but pulls off a memorable turn as the hell-child, who’s house the murderous trio infiltrate, and end up ‘spoiling’ his cocaine.
As the fed-up trio begin to formulate their plan, they decide they need a hitman. After a couple of dodgy attempts, they find what looks like the real deal: a hardened Jamie Foxx. His character has done a ‘dime’ (10 years) in jail, for ‘nasty s**t’, the three jump on board, to find him only offering his services as a ‘murder consultant’. Foxx, again, features sporadically throughout the film, appearing when you have just forgotten about him, to steal the show. The reveal of his actual crime is one of the film’s highlights too, his ‘skills’ coming in handy at the very end of the film.
The film whizz’s through at almighty pace, with one minute the guys purchasing their ‘weapons of choice’, and the next, them putting them into action. It seems quite rushed at times, when other scenes, one in the car-park in particular, when the stars are queueing to get out the place, show the level of film-making to be very high. It’s not the most consistent film as a result. As mentioned, Farrell and Foxx’ characters could’ve been given further screentime, and the film expanded to fit them in. Also, I really don’t think the amount of swearing included was necessary, at times it was bearable, at others it was just annoying, and the film shows it can be funny without it, which is even more frustrating.
Overall though, it shows that on a low-budget and with relatively unknown ‘heroes’, that a film can succeed in modern-day cinema, as it hit the $200m mark in America, which is pretty good. It’s not a classic, by any means, but a good comedy, and a good way to kill and hour and a half.