Three comedic actors from TV that I’ve always liked were finally promoted to starring roles in Horrible Bosses. I’m talking about Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day. True, Jason Bateman has had some big roles, but Sudeikis and Day have just about always been relegated to the funny roommate or bachelor friend roles. Horrible Bosses makes up for the mishap that was Going the Distance, which featured Day, Sudeikis, Jim Gaffigan and other funny actors, but also had Justin Long and Drew Barrymore in starring roles. I could not bring myself to watch Barrymore and Long together onscreen, even though I liked the supporting cast. Here, Horrible Bosses cuts out the overhead by not insisting on making boring popular leading actors the main characters, instead allowing three people who have proven they’re funny take the big roles. Coincidentally, it’s a group of leading actors who fill out the supporting cast.
Out of all of the new comedies I’ve seen lately, Horrible Bosses is the funniest. To be fair, I think the reason for that is that Horrible Bosses mostly aimed to be funny. Win Win had a lot of heart, Cedar Rapids was surprisingly moving, Hall Pass was light entertainment, Midnight in Paris (the best out of the bunch) was delightful, but none had me laughing out loud like Horrible Bosses. There’s something to be said for comedies that just try to be funny.
The plot? If you haven’t seen the previews, it’s basically that three peeved employees at different jobs find themselves working under horrible bosses, and, after a series of lousy experiences, they decide to kill their bosses.
Almost all of the main cast members started out in TV sitcoms. Jason Bateman was in Arrested Development, Jennifer Aniston is from Friends of course, Jason Sudeikis is from Saturday Night Live, Jamie Foxx was in The Jamie Foxx Show and Charlie Day is from one of my favorite things to watch, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. More and more often, big studios are using TV stars in comedies, and I couldn’t be happier. Big stars are rarely all that funny, and people who devote their lives to comedy are inevitably funnier.
To say a little more about the cast, I feel that this was a comeback for a couple of the actors whom I don’t think have done much particularly good as of late. Jennifer Aniston for example has made some pretty lousy movies, but is actually good in Horrible Bosses. Likewise, I’d lost interest in Jamie Foxx for a while, but he had some great scene-stealing scenes here. I like Kevin Spacey in anything.
The biggest surprise is Colin Farrell. I just about always loath Colin Farrell, largely because of Alexander and Phone Booth (although he was good in the Woody Allen film Cassandra’s Dream). What’s most surprising is that Colin Farrell actually acts here–he doesn’t just squint and brood for two hours like usual.
It’s not an entirely pointless film. Underneath all of the high-jinks, there’s some pretty scathing social commentary about how the recession has created such a scarcity of gainful employment that three men would rather murder their bosses than take a chance at restarting their careers elsewhere. The movie’s executed with an irreverent slapstick style, so the real-world implications are never too despairing.
Now it’s by no means a perfect film. The directing is very mainstream and the humor is very broad, so don’t expect any awe-inspiringly beautifully scenes. Some of the jokes don’t work, and sometimes the schtick wears thin, but there’s a really funny sequence where the three main characters break into the house of a rich cokehead that makes up for the movie’s weaker points.*
Bottom Line: Horrible Bosses is definitely funny, but you might want to wait for it to hit the cheap second run theaters or be released on DVD at this point.
* I think a lot of Charlie Day’s lines were written with It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia in mind. Spoiler: When Charlie is in the cokehead’s house, he ends up getting high on coke and spazzing out, much like when his character on It’s Always Sunny starts “gumming” cocaine. In another scene in Horrible Bosses, Charlie’s character mentions his real-life co-star from It’s Always Sunny, Danny Devito.
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