Released in 2011 and directed by Seth Gordon, also featuring a huge cast including Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey, Horrible Bosses tells the story of three regular workers, all trapped in the endless cycle of monotonous office work, but with the added pressure of bonkers bosses. Our three leads Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudekis) all have their lives ruined by their bosses in some way, be it lying and cheating to full-blown sexual harassment. They soon decide that the only way to break this chain is to have their bosses killed, which is when things start to go wrong. With a sequel released last year and a potential franchise on the rise, find out what we thought of the very first Horrible Bosses.
Straight up, I thought Horrible Bosses was very funny. There were several factors that helped make this one of my favourite comedies, including the brilliant script, superb performances and clever editing. There were some obvious standout performers, but the cast were all very good, but I have to say that my favourite was Jason Sudekis as Kurt. His character is very well written, and his performance was simply excellent. Sudekis’ delivery is superb, and his physical comedy is also top notch, and if it weren’t for him, I don’t think the chemistry between the leads would’ve been half as strong. Also good was Kevin Spacey as Nick’s boss Dave Harken. I never knew he was such a good comedic actor, and he really showed his range as an actor, going from a very comedic figure to frankly terrifying at the flick of a switch. Also excellent was Charlie Day as Dale, a worker sexually harassed by his boss, and his character was very well established, which lead to his comedic scenes packing more of a punch. Day’s physical comedy was also top notch, especially when he slid into a garage door, one of my highlights of Horrible Bosses.
The supporting cast were also mostly good, and there were a few cameos that really stood out and helped Horrible Bosses excel. My personal favourite was Fantastic 4‘s Ioan Gruffudd as a Wetwork Man. I won’t ruin the joke here, but it was one of my personal highlights from the film, mainly because it was completely unexpected, and Gruffudd turned in a performance unlike anything else he has done before. Also present is Jamie Foxx as Dean ‘MF’ Jones, a shady character deeply linked with the criminal underworld, but in a very surprising and hilarious way. Colin Farrell was also good as Kurt’s boss Bobby Pellit, and the lengths he went to make-up wise makes his performance here one of his career highlights. Not so good, however, was Jennifer Aniston as Dale’s boss Julia. Her performance was quite one-note compared to Spacey and Farrell’s, and her character’s joke got old quite fast, making scenes with her drag quite a bit.
There was also a lot to like about Horrible Bosses production-wise. At the beginning and end of the film, large text pops up on the screen, and this fourth-wall breaking made the film’s opening very engaging, and made it quite cyclical in structure; everything returns (relatively) back to how it was, but in a thoroughly different way. The characters actually learn something over the course of this film, something not present in most modern comedies, and it was really refreshing to see that some care had been taken over the writing process of this film to make it worthwhile for all viewers, be it those who like a laugh or those who crave an interesting story. And if you were wondering, I fall into the latter category. One last note on the production was the subtle use of music to emphasise certain points. I only spotted it once, but in one scene with Kurt and Julia, Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ was playing in the background. Coincidence? I think not.
One factor of the film that really stood out to me was its ending. The character’s resolutions are very satisfying, and for once it was nice to see a comedy with a coherent ending that was logical and rewarding for the viewer. I’m not terribly sure how they managed to carve a sequel out of this, because there doesn’t appear to be much else they can do with the characters due to the solid ending, which does make me fear for Horrible Bosses 2 a little bit. But, that’s completely beside the point, because Horrible Bosses‘s ending was very good, logical and had just enough closure to make it feel like a complete film without need for sequel-baiting.
Unfortunately, there were a few things about Horrible Bosses that I wasn’t such a big fan of. As I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t like Jennifer Aniston’s performance or her character at all, because it was very one-note, and the joke ran dry very quickly. Pacing was also an issue in this film, particularly the first half of it, where it is all the same thing. It goes: scenes of the three characters at work, scene of them in a bar, repeat. This goes on for at least the first half an hour, and it does make it drag a bit after the brilliant opening. The second half is also a bit all over the place, with three scenes of the guys following their bosses, and then absolute chaos, and there is no rhyme or reason to any of it. The film retreads old ground quite a bit, and if it weren’t for the interesting story, the pacing of Horrible Bosses may have let it down.
I had a good time with Horrible Bosses, because of its brilliant cast and humour, subtle references, engaging plot and satisfying ending, but it was not free of problems. I recommend giving Horrible Bosses a watch, but don’t expect it to blow your socks off. It’s one of my favourite modern comedies, but given the state of the genre at the moment, it’s not saying all that much.
I give Horrible Bosses 7 out of 10.
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