Charlie Day, Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis star in Horrible Bosses, one of the more popular R-rated raunchy comedies from this past summer. The film is for the most part funny, thanks to the crazy bosses, played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston. The main problem with Horrible Bosses is its extremely light delivery on a premise that hints and suggests much darker results. Director Seth Gordon never fully takes Horrible Bosses to its dark potential, resulting in a funny film, but nothing too memorable or praise worthy.
Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) are three normal Americans who all have day jobs that none of them particularly care for. Nick has a boss that constantly treats him like shit and the only reason he’s sticking around is for a big promotion that he’s been working 8 years on. His boss Dave (Kevin Spacey) decides that the only person best fit for this promotion is himself.
Instead of giving Nick or anyone else a promotion he combines the vacant job with his own, making Nick and everyone else continue to feel like worthless employees. When Nick tries to quit Dave threatens to call him a drunk and lazy employee to his next employer causing Nick to become trapped in a job that he hates, but can’t afford to give up.
Kurt’s situation is a little different. He enjoys his boss and has a great friendship with him, but his boss’s son, Bobby (Colin Farrell) is a bit of a dick. He’s addicted to cocaine and doesn’t care about his job, his father or any of his co-workers. He’s basically feeding off of his father’s success. When Kurt’s boss dies, Bobby takes over the company and immediately backs Kurt into a corner. Bobby’s sole plans are to make Kurt do all the dirty work while he sits behind a desk snorting cocaine and having his way with hookers. Kurt knows Bobby plans on running the company into the ground, so even if he does manage not to get fired he’ll be out of a job in a matter of years.
Dale is the submissive one of the bunch. He has a lovely fiance that he plans on marrying shortly and he works as a dental assistant. His boss Julia (Jennifer Aniston) is a sex crazed psycho. She’s constantly making explicit gestures towards Dale and when he decides enough is enough she brings out evidence that could ruin his marriage. Dale is forced to either have sex with Julia or to handle this once and for all.
Insert Dean “MF” Jones (Jamie Foxx), a convict who just did a dime in prison and is willing to offer his services to three working gentlemen that have no idea how to murder their bosses. Horrible Bosses follows Dale, Nick and Kurt as the plot and plan how to kill their bosses without getting caught. Jones becomes their go to man and the rest of the film follows a familiar path that never really captures comedic gold.
Horrible Bosses is very much a big studio take on something a little studio could have done much better. The concept of killing your bosses isn’t anything new, but it’s something that can be surprisingly hilarious given a proper cast. R-rated comedies like this tend to only really work effectively if their willing to go all the way and by all the way I mean follow up with the plan until the very end. No one wants to see our characters changing their minds and coming back down to reality. We want to see these idiots kill their asshole bosses and that’s it.
Seth Gordon doesn’t have any problem painting the picture for the bosses. Each boss is as annoying as the next and the opening minutes really don’t make you sympathize for any one of them, which helps ease the transition into actually going ahead and killing them. Our main three characters are the dumbest batch of losers, so siding with them was never really an option. When you don’t go all out in these sorts of films than you’re left not liking or caring about anything. You have three really obnoxious men that want to kill their bosses, if they don’t kill their bosses than these men are just as worse as the bosses they’ve been bitching about for the entire running time, but if you give your film some balls and have them go all out we will have a feeling of accomplishment at the end.
Horrible Bosses never reaches that feeling. It toys with the idea and gets very close to hitting the right notes, but it cowardly backs away from any sort of bold moves that would set it apart from other films. It becomes a decent studio “dark” comedy. I put quotes around dark because there is rarely an actual studio comedy that can be called dark, there are dark elements presented, but it never fully dives into the material.
The bulk of the laughs come from the bosses. Spacey and Aniston provide a decent amount of chuckles, but Farrell takes the cake as the coke head nut job. It’s a shame that he isn’t given more screen time because every hard laugh comes from his performance.
Sudeikis, Bateman and Day are fine together, but never really that funny. They each play their normal charms here without any difference from previous films. Together they feel more annoying than funny. You never really get on board with the killing when they’re sitting at Applebee’s because they come off more as giant complainers than people willing to do what needs to be done. I’m not saying kill your boss, but I’m saying if the movie is called Horrible Bosses and the plot is to kill your bosses, then start doing it and stop talking about it.
Seth Gordon never fully does it which makes Horrible Bosses a missed opportunity. It’s a decent studio R-rated comedy, but it’s not nearly as dark or raunchy as it could have been, especially considering whom they had working on the project. Spacey has delivered tons of dark performances before and Farrell looked more than willing to cross into that insane territory. Aniston wasn’t her normal self in this one, which made her even more of a wildcard.
Everyone looked like they were willing to go that extra mile, but Gordon didn’t seem to feel the need to. He settles for average and it’s a real bummer. Horrible Bosses could have been one of the better comedies of the year, but it’s instead just a decent rental.
Horrible Bosses is a very soft movie and the 1080p transfer is fine. There is a fine sharpness to the whole film and most of the dark colors never get too fuzzy or unsettling. Detail is present and most of the brighter scenes help make the film pop a little more. This isn’t the best transfer Warner Brothers has put out, but it’s what’s expected for this particular film.
The audio on the other hand is front heavy and quiet. The 5.1 DTS-HD track never really opens up on the back speakers, which makes for a less engaging experience. Comedies never shine in the audio department, but this one really doesn’t even try to make use of all of the channels. Dialogue is clear enough when heard and I couldn’t find any problems understanding it all, but it could have been a little more active.
Horrible Bosses comes with a small supply of special features. Most of the features consist of the cast discussing about their real life horrible bosses, which is a fun listen. The special features are all presented in high definition. Check out the list below.
- Extended Cut (106 minutes) & Theatrical Edition (98 minutes)
- My Least Favorite Career (HD)
- Surviving a Horrible Boss (HD)
- Being Mean is So Much Fun (HD)
- The Making of the Horrible Bosses Soundtrack (HD)
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
- DVD Copy
I really wanted to like Horrible Bosses more, but I just couldn’t go with a film that doesn’t have enough balls to follow through with its premise completely. The film is fine from a technical level, the script works and the camerawork, editing and music is all fine, but it’s the execution by director Seth Gordon that really messes it all up. All three bosses were truly horrible pieces of shit, which would have made the story all the better, but Gordon was less interested in following through and more interested in getting the easy laughs.
Horrible Bosses is a funny movie, but it’s not a memorable one worth watching over and over. The Blu-Ray comes with a good video transfer and a kind of lacking audio track that doesn’t enhance the experience much. The special features are quick and painless and the DVD copy and UltraViolet copy might come in handy for a plane ride or road trip, but I’m not sure if this film will be worth taking anywhere. It works as a funny rental with familiar faces, but it doesn’t do much more than that.
Horrible Bosses follows a very light and predictable path, not leaving room for any dark material to poke its head.