One of the more amusing things about the surprise hit Bridesmaids is that while it isn’t all that funny it has a terrific story that is rather engaging. The story is what keeps us there, despite a big portion of the jokes not hitting as often as a high quality raunchy comedy ought to. The exact opposite of this is Horrible Bosses, which hits a remarkably high percentage of jokes despite its overall plot falling apart all over the place.
Nick (Jason Bateman) is an executive who works for a slave-driver (Kevin Spacey) who works him excessively hard under the guise of promotion, then cruelly takes it away. Dale (Charlie Day) is a dental assistant who has a sexy boss (Jennifer Anniston) who sexually harasses him in remarkable ways. Kurt (Jason Sudekis) loves his job but hates the cocaine-addicted amoral imbecile (Colin Farrell) who inherited the family business. All three reach the same point in their lives: their bosses need to be am-scrayed for them to be happy in life. Consulting with an ex-con (Jamie Foxx) who advises them on the ways of murder, the three conspire to kill one another’s bosses.
But it’s not the story that’ll hook you. If it was it’d be much stronger and cleaner than the one that wound up on screen. This is a film that really doesn’t know the sort of tone and pace it wants to maintain. Part comedic drama and part farce, the film can’t find a happy medium between them that it wants to stay at. After we establish that all three bosses are remarkably miserable, and the misery they inflict upon their employees, the film goes off the rails early and often. The characters are poorly written whose motivations tend to change depending on what the film needs them to be funny. And with all of this going against it, something magical happens.
Nearly every single joke hits, almost overcoming the film’s lack of a strong narrative arc.
This is easily the funniest film of 2011 and might wind up being the funniest film of the year, if only because of how many jokes just work so well. This is a funny script and it doesn’t hurt that the three principles work remarkably well together. Bateman and Sudeikis are seasoned professionals when it comes to this, obviously, but the film’s breakout star is Charlie Day.
A longtime cast member of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he nearly stole Going the Distance a year ago and nearly does the same with this film. Any time he’s on the screen it’s nearly impossible not to laugh at him. He has a manic energy that works well alongside the more passive posturing of Bateman and Sudeikis; the three have a strong chemistry with one another that carries this film much further than it should be by all rights.
Horrible Bosses winds up being a funny film that just doesn’t have the basic framework to be brilliant, just all the parts. Considering the state of comedy in 2011 that’s not a bad thing.
Director: Seth Gordon Notable Cast: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx Writer(s): Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.