johnlink ranks HORRIBLE BOSSES (2011)

Went up to Westport, NY for a week. Unplugged from the electronic world. It’s been a week since a movie post, but I’m still looking to more than double my movies from last year so I don’t feel too guilty about it. HORRIBLE BOSSES is a comedy I’ve been wanting to see so, you know, I watched it.

I watched HORRIBLE BOSSES (2011) on 9.4.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

This is a dark comedy with a list of stars in supporting roles. Often, that can be a disaster. With HORRIBLE BOSSES, the choices in casting make this film memorable. The three leads are played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis. They bring the funny, and they do what you ask out of the leads of a comedy. If the film was just them, it would be funny, it would be entertaining enough, and it would be forgettable.

The problem is, those three friends have some pretty horrible bosses. Nick (Bateman) has to deal with his prick of a boss, Mr. Harken (Kevin Spacey). Dale (Day) has a sexually harassing dentist for a boss, Dr. Harris (Jennifer Aniston). And Kurt (Sudeikis) has a new boss who just wants to destroy the company, named Bobby (Colin Farrell). It is these bosses which make this whole thing great.

Spacey is everything you would ask, basically reprising his ‘asshole boss’ role from SWIMMING WITH SHARKS. That he is number three on the list in terms of impact is not an insult. He is great. Colin Farrell plays against type, his balding and uncool Bobby is such a douche. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work for him. He is hilariously offensive. Importantly, the film does a nice job of explaining how he gets to be where he is. The set up is there so that he isn’t just a random guy who is terrible at his job but gets to be boss anyway.

Lastly, we have Jennifer Aniston as the sexually charge Dr. Harris. So, I watched some FRIENDS when it aired, she was cute. I saw a couple of her romantic-comedies years ago. She was okay. I’ve always found her charming but nothing special. But, holy shit, does she bring it in HORRIBLE BOSSES. It’s not just that she says wildly inappropriate things at wildly inappropriate times. It’s not just the  unlikely sexual energy she thrusts into the film, despite the fact of having a wholesome persona. It’s really the way she controls every scene she is in. Some of it is Day’s reaction, but more it’s how Aniston commands a reaction.

There are certainly some logic holes in this dark comedy. The thrust of the movie begins when the three friends decide to kill each others’ bosses. It absolutely relies on a fair amount of coincidence. But, truly, it doesn’t matter. There is so much funny going on, and so consistently, that the film zooms right on by. Half way through I was curious how this entire thing would turn out. Would there be a satisfying level of resolution? The stakes in this film are always high, we’re talking about murder after all, so would the end properly rectify what the build up establishes? Believe it or not, HORRIBLE BOSSES does make it all work. Not an easy task.

In a high concept comedy like HALL PASS, a big set-up is created. Guys are given permission to cheat on their wives. But the movie likes its characters too much to do anything really bad. That can be a huge hindrance, and it was to HALL PASS. On the other hand, HORRIBLE BOSSES is able to maneuver around that obstacle with much more grace, mainly because it has a trio of villains to hang its evil hat on. Is the script perfect? No. But it sure as hell is effective. There is a level of coincidence that seems too high, until you realize that Aniston is never pulled into the drama of the main conflict. The script actually does try to follow a somewhat logical string, even if it allows itself some crazy bits of comedy. It’s a high-wire act that HORRIBLE BOSSES walks well.

While perhaps not in the canon of classic comedies just yet, HORRIBLE BOSSES certainly deserves to be considered in the upper echelon of this fledgling decade’s best comedies.



The bonus point is for casting, something to which I rarely give credit. However, everyone in this really nails what they are meant to do. I didn’t even mention Jamie Foxx’s great turn as a potential assassin or Donald Sutherland playing a mentor in typical Donald Sutherland fashion.



~ by johnlink00 on September 6, 2012.

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