Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review - Horrible Bosses

Three friends hatch a plan to kill each others horrible bosses. Once the methods are underway however the group realizes nothing is going according to the plan.

Something like a rite of passage, everyone is destined to have a horrible boss at some point in their lifetime. Hopefully that time is early on working in a menial minimum wage job and not in an career you went to school and developed actual skills for. Regardless, one day we all have to learn how to deal with a boss that rubs us the wrong way for whatever reason. To a certain extent these kinds of situations can be seen as challenges that aim to make us better individuals. In other ways they are complete annoyances that can fester within in us or break us down emotionally, physically and mentally. The one thing it is not suppose to do is drive you to kill them. "Horrible Bosses" takes three friends who each have their own horrendous boss to cope with and allows them to play out a crack-potted "what if" scheme to kill each others bosses that they cook up over some drinks at T.G.I.F. Friday's.

The best thing going for "Horrible Bosses" is the comedic trio of Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis. These three really play well off each other. There is a balance between them that I'd like to see more of in the future. Before I get ahead of myself though let's continue talking them in this movie. Jason Bateman once again is the straight-faced reserved character he's so well known for. Jason Sudeikis isn't too far behind him either. It is safe to say the Bateman and Sudeikis are the steadies while Charlie Day plays the loose cannon. Those typecasts are not set in stone though, because each of the guys have their own loose cannon moments throughout that provide a number of laughs. Charlie Day definitely is at the center of most the half-witted hi-jinks getting a number of the big laughs. The only detractor there is Day's pitch changes in his voice. He has a habit of raising his voice to put more emphasis on certain words. A process that is generally not tedious, but in certain moments Day really screeches out his lines in a ear-piercing manner.

For a movie about horrible bosses, "Horrible Bosses" is kind of light on the horrible bosses. We really only get a skimming of how truly terrible work life is like for our three main characters. Take Dale Arbus's (Charlie Day) boss Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S. (Jennifer Aniston) for example. Her character is nothing more than simple sex appeal for the male audience. The audience is told what she is doing is cruel (for Dale's character) but no one believes that. Not even Dale's own friends buy it. In fact I could have done with more of Julia Harris' sexual innuendos, they were tantalizing and hilarious. More is a good word for Kurt Buckman's (Jason Sudeikis) boss Bobby Pellitt (Colin Ferrell) who we see very little of. Ferrell is hysterical as the obnoxious, loud-mouthed boss whose only interest is himself. I really wanted more of his world, because everything shown was ripe with humor. Nick Hendricks' (Jason Bateman) boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) is the biggest let down. Spacey is essentially doing a watered down re-tread of the character Buddy Ackerman he played in "Swimming with Sharks." I hate to say it but Spacey's performance felt awfully phoned in. Spacey is a natural talent and can always bring it, but here he just came across like he was only along for the ride.

The ride is the real reason we do not get much of the bosses being horrible in "Horrible Bosses." The comedy is more about these three friends carrying out the silly plan they schemed up while under the influence of alcohol. As for the ride itself, I got a kick out of cruising along with these three as the plan unfolded. There are a number of laughs and a handful of memorable scenes that should have high replay value. The 100 minute comedy moved along at a swift pace and never felt like it spent too much time in one situation or another. The comedy also knew when to let a joke go. Often enough comedies stretch out a joke way too long and here everything comes across fairly concise. Much of the senseless plan is fun to watch because of the apparent chemistry between Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis. Without their on-screen dynamic "Horrible Bosses" could have been a real chore to sit through.

Overall "Horrible Bosses" feels thrown together and like one huge "what if" scenario carried out with some friends. A lot of great ideas that were spit-balled but not necessarily thought out. Director Seth Gordon did a decent job of making the scheme come together in a fairly coherent way but it had too many moments I wanted more from. I wanted more from the horrible bosses and I wanted the comedy to get darker than it does. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis really do keep the comedy afloat and I hope we will get to see more of this trio in the future, just not at T.G.I.F. Friday's hatching alcohol induced schemes. I'd hate for "Horrible Bosses" to be the only time we get to see this triple threat together and making us laugh.