'Horrible Bosses' (dir: Seth Gordon, 2011), Cert: 15
Yeah, I'm reviewing a film that's not even technically released yet - I'm moving up in the world. Anyway, so far 2011 has been a pretty slow year for comedy movies; we've had the utterly appalling thanks to 'The Hangover Part 2', the utterly disgusting thanks to 'Just Go With It' and the utterly miserable thanks to 'Hall Pass'. The only universally well-received comedy of this year so far has been 'Bridesmaids' and I still haven't seen it. Don't fret though, I will.
Well now the world has been given 'Horrible Bosses'; the new film from Seth Gordon (the man behind the sensational 'The King of Kong'  and the not-so-sensational 'Four Christmases' ). Ironically, two of the stars in this picture have starred in some of the terrible movies listed above, but let's put the past behind us. After all, this film does star the wonderful Jason Bateman, the perfect Kevin Spacey and the loveable Jamie Foxx, so it's not all bad. However, due to the ghastly comedies as of recent, to say I approached 'Horrible Bosses' with caution is a fair prediction...
Three friends - Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) all have one problem in common; they hate their bosses. Their employers make their daily lives a living hell and cause them consistent torment and stress. Nick's boss, Dave Harken (Spacey) is a psychopathic monster who relishes in his power and hateful behaviour. Kurt's boss, Bobby Pellit (Colin Farrell) is a drug-addict who has major prejudice issues, and Dale's boss, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston) is a nymphomaniac who is desperate to get him to sleep with her and threatens to destroy him if he doesn't. The three friends decide the only way to free themselves is to kill their bosses, but this is no simple task and mayhem ensues at every possible corner.
Raunchy comedy is not a new thing; enter Judd Apatow, nor is a comedy-crime caper; enter the 'Ocean's' franchise, but what is new is these strange 'event' comedies where a new thing appears every moment to change the narrative direction. Like in 'The Hangover'; (the good one), where at every location, a different threat enters that's linked to a past event. i.e: The church scene and the attack on the car. Well it's a very similar story with 'Horrible Bosses' - rather than a typical linear comedy narrative, this film throws constant twists, turns and shocks, and I am so happy to report that this is a good thing.
'Loveable Employers' is not a stupid gross-out comedy like 'The Hangover Part 2' or a vulgar entry like 'Just Go With It' and it's certainly not an annoying "guys who should know better" film like 'Hall Pass'. What this film does ever so successfully is to shape it's characters; make them dimensional, make them interesting and consequently, making every single character funny.
Gordon's hand at comedy direction is certainly skilled - from documentary to conventional Hollywood filmmaking, he is so aware that comedy only works through a valid script and the delivery from the cast. People screaming "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING AGAIN!!!" is not funny, nor interesting (and yes, I am still banging on about that completely rubbish film).
This film, much like many comedies nowadays is uncontrollably crude, but the dirty humour is great because of it's context, and also because it really forces some of the performers out of their comfort zones. There are expletives at every turn, dark humour is smeared across every scenario and Foxx's character even has a swear word for a name. 'Superbad' (2007) is still the best potty-mouthed picture of recent, but this movie is certainly amongst the better 'naughty' comedies.
|Still from 'Horrible Bosses' (dir: Seth Gordon, 2011)|
As I mentioned earlier, this film is littered with clever twists that surprise and excite the viewer; there is never a dull moment during the 98 minute running time making 'Pleasant Managers' a very enjoyable ride. I found myself laughing consistently and being generally struck by certain elements, particularly some of Aniston's dialogue.
Talking of Aniston, let's get onto the performances; if you didn't know already, I cannot stand Jennifer Aniston. She's been forever haunted by Rachel Green and can never seem to escape her - every time I see her, I can't help but hear canned laughter ringing in my ears. Thankfully, she's actually good in this film, in fact, she's one of the highlights. Her psycho-sexual behaviour is warped, demented and outrageous; it's lovely to see her let loose and become a bit of an animal. For those who, like me, expected her to be terrible, think again. I was genuinely impressed by her performance.
Bateman is also great which I certainly did expect, and although he still hasn't been as good as he was in 'Juno' (2007, and still the best indie film in years) or 'Arrested Development' (2003-2006), he is still probably the most consistently funny, witty and charming mainstream comedic actor of recent. I can't wait for 'The Change-Up' and yes, I really did just write that. You might need to double-take.
Sudeikis and Day are entertaining and do the typical maniac behaviour thing with ease. This film was an easy ride for the pair but they don't slack and give entertaining performances. Foxx is very funny too and has a few great gags which I will not spoil. Farrell is also very funny as Bobby but he has limited screen time compared to his fellow 'Nasty Superiors'.
However, the film's star as expected is Spacey. Film fans out there will see this movie and think to themselves "Hang on, I'm sure he did the same performance 17 years ago or so in that film 'Swimming with Sharks' right?", well yeah sort of. But Spacey's Hollywood producer in that film was an aggressive and vicious depiction from the cut-throat world of movie-making, but here, he is just generally 'horrible'. Spacey can do both endearing and loathing with ease and he provides the goods here. He steals every scene he is in and I can't help but be instantly thrilled when I see his name attached to a project. Well done Spaceman, well done indeed.
In a way, 'Despicable Leaders' (I'm running out of ideas now...) is a comedic love-letter to Hitchcock's masterpiece 'Strangers on a Train' (1951) just with less suspense and menace, and although that may seem bizarre, it actually works perfectly. This is a dark and seedy feature that's brightened by memorable performances, quotable dialogue and crafty direction from a director worth praising; I whole-heartedly recommend it.
Currently the year's strongest and most surprising comedy movie thanks to an abundance of zany humour masked with dark undertones. Go see 'Horrible Bosses'. Now.
By Chris Haydon
P.S: 'The Hangover Part 2' sucks.