Responsible for the monstrosity that is Four Christmases, director Seth Gordon attempts to redeem himself with the R-rated comedy Horrible Bosses. The story revolves around three hard-working men who seek the only appropriate response to poor treatment from their respective bosses: murdering them. For a film that seemingly takes place in an alternate universe, is exceedingly desperate, and contrived beyond all comprehension, Horrible Bosses is a rather enjoyable, raunchy comedy with plenty of laughter to be had.
Thankfully, Gordon and screenwriter Michael Markowitz (among others) keep this briskly paced comedy playful and light. The film is reminiscent of last year’s dumbfounded Due Date, in the way reckless behavior is nearly condoned, with little responsibility being taken. But what separates the two ridiculous premises apart, are the actors on screen. Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis were on two totally different playing fields. But in this case, the three principal actors work harmoniously together throughout the film. Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, and the wonderful Jason Bateman have this enjoyable, ingenious chemistry that gives the film a consistently snappy albeit completely juvenile atmosphere.
Horrible Bosses doesn’t quite hit on all cylinders though. The inexcusable lack of originality and the over-the-top, complex plotting prove to be the comedy’s major downfalls. Gordon’s lack of narrative direction is off-putting, and confusing. He drags his simplistic and archetypal characters throughout such clichéd and redundant situations. One such quibble is the character of Jamie Foxx, Motherfucker Jones. Yes, that’s his name, don’t ask. He is the murder “consultant” who isn’t everything he appears to be. His character feels extraneous and forced, coming off as just another opportunity for Foxx to cash in a paycheck.
It all feels inconsequential but this isn’t a picture to be taken too seriously after all. It’s mindless, breezy, and quite lowbrow but that’s all right, though. Following these three dedicated, hard working pals conspiring to murder their awful bosses, the movie morphs from silly to parody to outlandish to absolute lunacy. When the film’s brisk 100-minute run-time is up, the powerhouse cast has managed to rise above the middling material, delivering an affable comedy that provides laughs in spades.
Horrible Bosses is an unapologetic dark comedy that’s crude, rude, and often humorous. Let’s face it, in this economy, who doesn’t want to harm their boss one way or the other?
Notes: Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material, 100 minutes
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