Film review: Horrible Bosses

30 August 2011

Written by: MATTHEW DIXON

Have you ever had a bad boss?  Have you ever just wanted to throttle them?

In the entertaining dark comedy Horrible Bosses, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis devise a seemingly foolproof plan to eliminate their bosses — played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell.

Of course, foolproof plans conducted by fools are doomed to fail.

Nick (Bateman) works under the fiery Dave Harken (Spacey), who has been denied a big promotion and is abused for being two minutes late to work — at 6am. Dale (Day) is a dental assistant who is constantly sexually harassed by his sexy but maniacal boss (Aniston). While Kurt (Sudeikis) is now forced to work for his crack-and-prostitute-abusing boss (Farrell), who hates all people, especially fat people and cripples.

Horrible Bosses is an amusing film that toys with the dark side of comedy but never embraces its potential, at least not fully.

Given the situations the characters get themselves into, the movie could and should have spiralled deeper into the rabbit hole. The result is a dark comedy for mainstream audiences; it has bite but no edge.

Still, the movie’s fast-paced story, zany situations and goofy characters combine for an entertaining experience. It’s no The Hangover, but its aspirations to do so are adequate. Bateman, Day and Sudeikis have great chemistry together. Their characters are annoyingly dumb and excessively chatty, but their constant banter works more often than not.

Day is at once the film’s most annoying character and the funniest, but both Bateman and Sudeikis complement his grating qualities nicely. The real scene-stealers, however, are the bosses. The actors do a great job of playing against type, especially Farrell as a balding psychopath of a boss. Unfortunately, Farrell gets the least screen time, but Spacey is deliciously evil and Aniston is hilarious and sexy.

Unlike in The Hangover, the protagonists don’t have well developed characters. You couldn’t really care what happened to them, but you did care that the bosses got what they asked for.

Horrible Bosses is an entertaining comedy that has enough goofy moments to make it worthwhile.

George Galanis is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University.