Dan Clark’s review published on Letterboxd :
2011 has had a number of trends so far. One of the biggest was the return of the R rated comedy. This return while welcome has yielded mixed results. A film like “Hangover 2” has done well at the box office, but was a miss with most fans and critics. While on the other side of the spectrum “Bridesmaids” surprised both in ticket sales and moviegoer enjoyment. One film that fell in-between was Horrible Bosses. Actually that may be the perfect way to describe it in fact; a middle of the road average comedy. While it won’t drive you nuts like “Hangover 2” it doesn’t hit the levels of other great comedies to come out this year.
Horrible Bosses stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis as three friends who have one thing in common. Their bosses drive them crazy. So crazy in fact they come up with an outlandish plot to solve their bothersome issue. It’s simple enough. They will simply kill them. May seem a little excessive, but they feel it’s the only way. These bosses are played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston. Spacey is a cooperate shark that is bent on standing on the shoulders of his employees just to make himself look taller. He seems more like an evil comic book villain, rather than an actual corporate CEO. Well I guess those are one in the same in today’s day. Farrell is a cooked-up narcissistic product of nepotism who just became the boss of Jason Sudeikis character due to his father’s passing. Lastly there is Dr. Julia Harris who is half dentist half sexual advancer played by Jennifer Aniston. She very bluntly puts herself out there to the newly engaged Dale Arbus, Charlie Day’s character in the film. After one letting off steam occasion at their favorite bar the disfranchised three decide the only way they can make their lives better is by killing their bosses. The only thing standing in their way is their own incompetence and naiveté’.
Horrible Bosses does have a lot of things going for it. For one it is loaded with talent. In the end though a lot of that talent goes to waste. Colin Farrell was the perfect example of this. I wasn’t the biggest fan of his character, and even if I was he didn’t even have much to do. It seemed like he was just there for name value. Really the only boss that had a character with more than one dimension was Kevin Spacey. While we have seen a performance like this from here before I still found it was fun to watch. It oozed arrogance with such a vigor you couldn’t help but love hating him. While the bosses are what set up the story the outcome was really dependent upon the three leads Bateman, Day, and Sudeikis. They handle that responsibility well by bringing in their own personality, but not being unique to the point where their friendship feels unnatural. I just wish they were surrounded by a better movie. Horrible Bosses wants to be a dark comedy, however it still wants to maintain that summer fun. Ambitious for sure, and I admire that. Unfortunately their ambitions weren’t meant. For one a black comedy is not just made in its content. Tone and style play a large part in making it successful. At times it wants to go all the way with its tone to become a true black comedy. Then it has a goofy scene that is just there to get an easy laugh. While comedy and laughter go hand and hand, to make a great comedy you have to make tough choices. The toughest choice is focus on movie first then the laughs. The best laughs are the ones that come organically through the plot and story. Horrible Bosses has a lot of those laughs, but it’s not disciplined enough to stick with it. They suffer from the epidemic that is random joke syndrome. They throw things out there at times that feel out of place and tacked on.
Ensemble comedies have become the norm in the last few years. This is far from the worst we have seen. It is simply your average summer comedy. It’s sure to havee have a lot of appeal to the general audience because it is easy to digest. The comedy isn’t overly crude, and jokes throw a broad enough net to capture the humor of the majority of society. You’ll most likely find a laugh or two and that’s actually saying a lot. There are plenty of so called comedies that you end up loathing and this is far better then those. Horrible Bosses has the pieces just not the daringness to go for it.