Friday, August 05, 2011

Horrible Bosses

Here's How You Do It

I'm sure many of us have encountered bosses we'd love to hate, or worse, actually are demonstrating some of the mean traits on display in the movie as bosses ourselves. Horrible Bosses by Seth Gordon amplifies just about everything negative from people we report to, ranging from accusations, lies, and the passing the buck to right size the company, and delivered a roaring, laugh out loud comedy that employed everything from slapstick to the requisite toilet humour and though as simple and cliched as the story might be, scored on all its attempts thanks in part to the performance of its ensemble cast and their impeccable comic timing.

Michael Markowitz's story introduces us to the bullied protagonists of Nick Hendricks, a typical employee sucking everything his boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) throws at him due to the belief that only those who suck up get to rise the corporate ladder, finding out the hard way that his boss is actually one heck of a motivator in the most negative sense. Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) on the other hand has to fend off the countless of sexual harassment moments as the dentist's assistant to his dentist employer, played by the really smoking hot Jennifer Aniston as Dr Julia Harris, with a sexual appetite that's hard to placate. And rounding off the three buddies in distress is Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis), working in a family company whose boss Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland) had passed away, leaving behind the top job for his son Bobby (Colin Farrell) to take over, where the crack head is absolutely clueless in the running of the company if not for the profits to milk from.

In one drunken stupor they hatch a hypothetical plan to bump off the thorns at their sides, only for their plans to be kickstarted into actual motion when the last straw broke the camel's back. The story shifts into high gear with the trio figuring out how best to carry out their threats and plans with minimal risks, and here's where the cameos by Ioan Gruffudd and Jamie Foxx as an ex-convict turned consultant breathed some bravado into the trio's plans.

If I were to compare the recent comedies involving a brethren of good friends to Horrible Bosses, I dare say Horrible Bosses had enough legs in it to best even The Hangover, even with its simpler, straightforward narrative. There are of course some similarities here such as relying on the chemistry of its protagonists to carry the film through from one set piece to the next, and the plenty of sexual innuendos thrown around, but it is exactly this camaraderie on display here by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis in executing their shenanigans that gives this film its one up against the competition.

Interesting enough, the best roles here are those of the antagonistic Bosses even though they play caricatures. Kevin Spacey may just have recycled his role here from ones he had played in his earlier works, but I suppose watching Spacey recycle is but a guilt trip all over again. Collin Farrell almost does a Les Grossman clone here with his trash talking, hair thinning role, while Jennifer Aniston plays a very in your face femme fatale who spares no effort in pushing the boundaries of sexual harassment - though I'm pretty sure any hot blooded male would take up that challenge - and like Tom Cruise's effort in playing something totally different in Tropic Thunder, does the same here in portraying a character never seen before from her filmography, firmly smashing being typecast in this minor role. Somehow the best lines got reserved for these three characters, and they delivered them with aplomb.

Like Revenge of the Nerds, Horrible Bosses celebrates the little guy, where the bullied are hoping to seek some justice in their lives when forced to a corner, fighting back even when they don't know exactly how. Enough surprises are thrown along the way, and its simplicity is its key here in setting everything up without a careless loose end. Ultimately it's still a fantasy piece that we can all have a good time at, before those who really have horrible bosses wake up to reality post screening. Horrible Bosses gets my vote as one of the best comedies this year, and those who do have one or a few in real life have my sympathies. Highly recommended!

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