Horrible Bosses marks the fourth major comedy of the 2011 summer movie season. Directed by Seth Gordon (Four Christmases), Horrible Bosses follows three men wholly unsatisfied with their workplace circumstances caused by their borderline evil bosses who set out to help each other out of their predicaments.
What better way to remove a problem than to kill it say the three when their bosses cross the line and thus begins the whacky adventures of Dale, Kurt and Nick, played by Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis and Jason Bateman respectively.
While audiences follow the film’s over-the-top plot through the perspective of Horrible Bosses’ version of “The Wolf Pack,” the three don’t live up to the chemistry or comedy found in the leads from The Hangover series and instead, the laughs are delivered from the outlandish supporting cast, lead by Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey, who play the three problematic bosses.
It is these three, alongside cameo roles by Jamie Foxx and Ioan Gruffudd, who steal the screen and deliver the better moments of the film but are sadly left rather underutilized.
Outside of Charlie Day’s character who we know is engaged to the love of his life – hence his workplace problem with Aniston’s character making advances on him – the film offers no background on the three protagonists. Jason Bateman’s Nick Hendricks character spends his days and even weekends in his cubicle at work, under the strict supervision of slave-driving Kevin Spacey, but we know nothing else about him. He’s lifeless. The same can be said about Sudeikis’ character who plays the trio’s ladies man of sorts.
Combine the lack of character depth with the unbelievability of their decisions, and the film suffers from a few too many heavy-handed comedy bits. Like this summer’s Bad Teacher and Gordon’s previous comedy, Four Christmases, Horrible Bosses features many unrealistic and far-fetched, one-note characters, thus making it challenging to find the right tone of comedy since their reactions to the crazy situations they find themselves in don’t always strike a chord.
The film would have benefitted from taking a few notes from Bridesmaids which introduces real characters and emotion into an unfortunate set of circumstances and thus, natural comedy and a much more rewarding viewing experience.
Still, the journey of the three and their quest to off each other’s bosses does offer up a few worthwhile laughs and through a little twist in a rather simple plot, two of the characters see their predicaments resolved in an interesting fashion, the other takes the cheap way out.
Horrible Bosses isn’t a horrible film, but you’d be doing yourself a favor by waiting for this one on home video.
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.