Monday, November 28, 2011
Let me make this quick, I'd hate to spend more time on this review than the writers spent on the screenplay. Horrible Bosses is a shameful waste of a dynamite premise. Unfortunately, the movie has no idea how to go beyond that funny set-up and deliver actual humor.
The writing just isn't sharp. The film's jokes are toothless and lame, even when, especially when, they are exceedingly vulgar and crass. This puts increasing stress on the performances of the three leads, would-be assassins Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, and Jason Sudeikis. They are all funny guys, as they have proved elsewhere, but all three are trying to get by on geniality and reputation here. To the extent that any of the film's jokes work, it is to their immense credit, as they can't have been easy to sell.
Another problem is that Bateman and Sudeikis aren't really given characters at all. Both are just kind of regular Joes with little to remember them by. Day's character at least has loyalty to his fiancee and sweet idiocy to play up.
The titular bosses are played with scene-chewing relish by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston. These actors are at least given characters, however absurd. But there is just an obvious and jarring disconnect present. Farrell and Aniston are both so clearly enjoying the chance to play against type that they go too far, or are allowed to go too far, and this goes so far past absurd as to no longer be humorous. Aniston in particular seems desperate for attention and approval. "Look at me, I'm saying dirty words! Aren't I the cutest? Why would anyone leave me for another woman?"
On the other hand, Kevin Spacey, playing much closer to his natural range, gives the best performance in the movie as the demanding, angry prick Mr. Harken.
The plot does pick up about two-thirds of the way through, when a genuinely surprising turn kicks the film into high gear. From there, confusions, misunderstandings, and chase scenes capably pad out the film until its moderately believable confusion. Ultimately, though, Horrible Bosses is a film which could have benefited immensely from a heavily revised script and some re-envisioned characters and casting choices.