Monday, August 15, 2011

Man on Film: Horrible Bosses

Before the film had even begun production, Horrible Bosses had a lot going for it. Conceptually, its three-headed protagonists' goal should have sated a cathartic yearning for the majority of the audience. The three stars, Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis, are all immensely likeable. Their foils, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell, are easy to dislike. The only potential problem in the bunch, Aniston, was playing against type--the only way any of her filmic endeavors have ever proven successful.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that it had all these things going for it from Jump Street, Horrible Bosses didn't manage to distinguish itself as anything more than a pretty good R-rated romp. Whether it was the screenplay (co-written by John Francis Daley, who played Sam Weir on the beloved classic Freaks and Geeks) or the direction (Four Christmases and King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters auteur Seth Gordon was at the helm here), something about the film fell short of what it could have been.

That isn't to say Horrible Bosses was bad. Again, it was pretty good. It's just with such a strong concept, a three-way Strangers on a Train scenario played out to comedic effect, one has to be a bit disappointed that the concept's potential isn't fully actualized*.

*Quite like the disappointment that set in upon having seen Bowfinger, another film in which the idea of the film is better than the film itself. 

Where the fault lies, I cannot be sure. It does seem like the titular characters are not quite horrible enough. Yes, they're loathesome, but in rooting for their demise, the audience truly has to hate them. This can still be done comedically, but the laughs and build up of animus don't quite meet a level necessary to make this a great comedy.

The bottom line is that Horrible Bosses is a funny movie. It will be easy to watch again as it makes the rounds of the premium cable networks. The disappointment lies in its failure to meet expectations.

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