Directed by: Seth Gordon
Written by: Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, & Jonathan Goldstein (screenplay)
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, and Kevin Spacey
Horrible Bosses is the kind of movie that many critics salivate at the mouth for. Not because it’s new or groundbreaking, but because it is ripe for potential with title comparisons if it’s awful.
Thankfully, it is not horrible or even close to it. Horrible Bosses is an enjoyable but hopelessly flawed comedic exercise. It is the first feature-length screenwriting effort by its three writers, Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan Goldstein. The movie is very funny, but the story itself is flawed; you feel like the three main actors (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) are trying desperately to sell their characters’ reasons for going forward with a drunken idea to kill their bosses.
When you meet their bosses, played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell, you understand why any employee would be in hell. They represent different archetypes of awfulness; Spacey is a paranoid power-tripper, Aniston an aggressive nympho, and Farrell a coke-headed buffoon.
Surprisingly, Aniston inhabits her vulgar role so fully that fans of her work in Friends and other movies where she plays Rachel may have to pick their jaws up off the floor. Spacey also slips into the skin of Dave Harken comfortably, but Farrell struggles to find his footing. Thankfully he doesn’t have too much time onscreen to really hurt the movie.
Bateman, Sudeikis and Day are a diverse comedic trio that are hit and miss. Thankfully, most of the gags lie on Day’s shoulders and he gives the movie a much needed punch of energy during scenes like the ones where the group canvass their bosses’ homes. His energy and the fact that you really can’t see where the movie is going really help divert from its narrative absurdity.
In an American economy faced with uncertainty, a wild ride that has three disgruntled employees throwing up their arms and preparing for the ultimate revenge is an appealing premise for a comedy. If Horrible Bosses took to the dramatic waters or went the route of a horror movie, it would be troubling. Director Seth Gordon and the writers wisely stray away from giving any legitimate reason to actually commit murder and make everyone involved a little too incompetent to be taken seriously.
That being said, Horrible Bosses is laced with a wicked sense of humor. Many will find the ending satisfying because it doesn’t go overboard, which is the goal of any raunchy comedy walking on the edge.