Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

On paper, Horrible Bosses promised to be a cut above your average seen-it-before comedy. Buddies Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) are having their lives ruined by nightmare bosses. Financial trader Nick is fed up being strung along by his promotion-dangling office president (Kevin Spacey), Kurt is angered that his once-dream job at a chemical company is soured by a coked-up, under-qualified manager (Colin Farrell) and dental assistant Dale has had enough being sexually harassed by his nymphomaniac supervisor (Jennifer Aniston). As such, they decide to kill each other’s superiors.

The premise, which cross-breeds the bullying-boss drudgery of Office Space with the murder-exchanging angle of an openly-referenced Strangers On A Train, is brilliant in it’s relatable simplicity. After all, how many of us hate our own bosses? Then, throw into the mix some comic talent spearheaded by the always-funny Jason Bateman, a few bona fide A-listers and a genuinely hilarious, interest- peaking trailer, and we were preparing for an average-transcending gag-fest. Knees, it seemed, were ready to be slapped.

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But the frustrating truth is that – as is too often the case today – all the best moments were in said trailer. No question, Seth Gordon (of Four Christmases ‘fame’) and his writers, orchestrate witty exchanges throughout but we’ve already seen all the choice laugh-out-loud bits. Colin Farrell’s ‘trim-the- fat’ firing policy, Jason Bateman’s brilliant drag-racing excuse (“I don’t win a lot”), Jennifer Anniston’s penis outline-spraying (“Shabbat Shalom, somebody’s circumcised!”)… all funny, yet all previously registered.

Often, Gordon’s revenge-com threatens to live up to the trailer hilarity – and you really want it to – but never quite does. The central trio banter well, their overlapping Apatowian back-and-forth showing the natural chemistry of three guys that utterly convince as buddies and who clearly had a ball filming the movie. But what begins as recognisable wish-fulfilment with a similar hyper-reality to that of The Office, soon veers into increasingly farcical territory. At no point do we believe that this threesome would consider murder, but by the time they’ve had car- chases, shootouts, actual murder and a convenient wrap-up, any sense of relatability has faded like a badly Xeroxed office document.

That said, Bateman’s natural comic delivery remains a joy to watch, while the vaguely Adam Baldwin-ish Sudeikis nabs a few decent lines, too. Tellingly, mainstream viewers will likely laugh most at Day, despite the fact his screeching voice (imagine Ed Burns having a panic attack on helium) is frequently cranked up to such a glass-shattering pitch that you wonder when (not if) his napper will implode. As for the titular villains, Spacey essentially reprises his Swimming With Sharks persona to brilliant effect, Farrell is such a hoot that you wish he’d do more comedy and Aniston might just be the central perk of the whole shebang.

An amusing comedy no doubt, but all the best moments were in the trailer. Still a sequel is probably already in the works.

Reviewed on: 27 Aug 2011
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Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.
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David Graham ***

Director: Seth Gordon

Writer: Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, Jonathan M Goldstein

Starring: Jason Bateman, PJ Byrne, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Meghan Markle, Charlie Day

Year: 2011

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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If you like this, try:

Horrible Bosses 2
Swimming With Sharks