Horrible Bosses Review

Bateman slaves away at all hours for a promotion that his manager, Kevin Spacey, is dangling in front of him. Sudeikis loves his job, but the death of the manager has seen the bosses’ son, Colin Farrell takes over: a comb-over coke addict who shares none of his father’s values and treats the family company as a cash machine. Charlie Day works as a dental assistant and is being sexually harassed by his boss Jennifer Anniston, a nymphomaniac who is trying to blackmail him into having sex with her before he ties the knot with his fiancée (a fact which earns him no sympathy from his two other friends).
Hailed as a hit black comedy, Horrible Bosses is the story of how a drunken fantasy after work, “You dream about killing your boss too?” becomes a plan of action as the three misfits plan to get rid of the thorns in their side.

Caught in ‘development hell’, the initial script was actually purchased in 2005, until the final list of cast members was decided and filming began in 2010. It’s clear that New Line brought out an A-cast to make this a success, Jason Bateman plays the type of deadpan ‘everyman’ comedy role that he does so well, Jennifer Anniston is a byword for screen comedy and the inclusion of Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell and Donald Sutherland bring some heavyweight class into their roles.

Overall, the film works and is very funny in places, but lacks the repeat viewing appeal of the standout modern working observation comedy, Office Space (which also coincidentally, stars Jennifer Anniston in a minor role). Bateman and Sudeikis excel, but Charlie Day rather overdoes things as the squeaky ‘kook’, obviously modeling his character on the oddball-of-the-group dynamic seen in the Hangover movies.
Spacey essentially reprises a former role from Swimming With Sharks, although notes in the extras that he plays Dave Harken “without any redeeming qualities”. Anniston goes against type as a potty-mouthed, sultry sex-fiend and Farrell is clearly enjoying himself and one of the funnier characters in the film.
Given the tortuous development of the project, it’s interesting to see what got left out; two (funnier) opening sequences were shot, a fantasy of the demise of Harken was replaced with a less gory one and a hilarious scene with Farrell demanding to know why there is carpet fluff in his sinuses (the bungling trio having knocked over his coke stash in a break-in, and hovering it up in a dust-buster) is gone. Violence and drug references are trimmed back, yet the raunchy bits with Anniston (showing that unlike her face, there are plenty of other parts that haven’t needed the knife) and the locker-room language all remains: clearly this please the studio executives and ticked the boxes for their test audience.

This formula approach makes it funny, intelligently plotted . . . but it lacks the gag-a-minute pace of funnier comedies and shies away from a truly dark examination of dehumanization through work that some other films tackle so well. But if you fancy something amusing that hasn’t been endlessly repeated (like so many of the other film that the principal cast have turned out over the years) you could certainly do worse.
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