Jon Meakin won November's Find-DVD review competition - next time it could be you!
16 December 2011
Congratulations to Jon Meakin who has won November's Find-DVD review competition for his enjoyable, very easy to read review of Horrible Bosses – Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy). Jon has already received his prize – a £100 Amazon voucher which he will be able to spend on anything he wants. Being this close to Christmas it will come in very handy for spending on Christmas presents!
For a start, the premise is funny, onto which a fiendish plot is built. I don't mean to sound surprised or flippant! But when was the last time you saw a comedy movie that had an actual plot driven story? Just look at The Hangover II; funny as hell, but the story was so dumb and repetitive, it was almost depressing. But the first Hangover was successful because the characters were realistic and as well as a good plot, Horrible Bosses has the same sort of people. The bosses themselves are absurd, but the employees are largely normal, caught up in a silly situation.
While Anchorman was genuinely hilarious, like all Will Ferrell and/or Ben Stiller films of recent years, it relied on ridiculous characters. That's getting old and audiences needed a change. Meanwhile Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy) seems to have lost momentum to Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) who has nevertheless failed to capture the same balance of sentimental crudeness Smith was so good at. At least Will Gluck's Easy A recaptured the teen comedy last year in superb style, and now Seth Gordon is doing the same thing for grown-ups with Horrible Bosses.
The story is that three working guys are fed up of their respective bosses. Jason Bateman is getting manipulated by Kevin Spacey, who is brilliantly nasty (quieter and more devious than his boss from hell role in Swimming With Sharks). Jason Sudeikis loves his job and his boss (Donald Sutherland), who suddenly dies, leaving his drug addict crazy son (Colin Farrell) in charge ("fire all the fat people!"). Finally Charlie Day is suffering Jennifer Aniston's attention, which the other two find hard to sympathise with and Aniston is looking so fantastic you may struggle to understand as well! The three guys try to hire a hitman (Jamie Foxx, with a character name I can't begin to tell you) to kill off their bosses. He instead advises them to do it Strangers On A Train style and kill each other's boss. "Criss-Cross-Criss", perhaps.
Horrible Bosses is similar to Throw Momma From The Train and not just because they share the same inspiration of Hitchcock's film. It's narrative driven and loves the movies in general, with several great references to spot. A movie savvy script is always fun for film nerds! It reminds me of other workplace comedies like 9 To 5 or Office Space, if a bit racier. That said, despite the story including attempted murder, drugs and extreme sexual harassment, it's an oddly optimistic and good natured film that delivers gags with harmless confidence.
All three Boss actors are having a riot. Spacey gets to do what he's best at and he is a perfect villain, while a near unrecognisable Colin Farrell is fantastic fun (look out for his awesome take on the Enter The Dragon poster!). Jennifer Aniston in possibly her best role really gets to cut loose as the filthy dentist, which has caused some controversy with the film being accused of all sorts of crimes against sexual politics. I personally think that's ridiculous and unfounded, because it's good fun and demonstrates the optimism of the story (Dale isn't taken in by her, because he's in a great relationship already and wants to be left alone). If it really had an agenda and wanted to cause trouble -like Very Bad Things perhaps- it would simply have made her character male. That would have been outrageous and offensive. Horrible Bosses doesn't need to be so obvious or cheap and instead, creates a smart villain who happens to wear suspenders or less, but still this plot point has managed to offend people!
The three disgruntled employees work together well. They each have their quirks, without spoiling the character. Charlie Day could easily have been a silly sidekick, but it doesn't quite happen which is all for the better. In fact, he gets a doozy of a final scene. Meanwhile, Jamie Foxx (I still can't tell you his character's name!) steals the show with a cracking role. The gag about how he got his name is one of the best.
There are several great sequences, particularly dropping a box of cocaine in Farrell's house, or trying to entrap Spacey, but they largely avoid outright slapstick and rely on good banter, which helps make this a refreshing and satisfying comedy. It doesn't repeat gags and there are no speeches about finding what's important in life or some such guff. Even during the overly convenient ending, it refuses to pull punches and it will leave you grinning for hours after. Don't miss the outtakes during the credits, by the way. They're great fun.