2011’s summer season was marked by the number of R-rated comedies it had, and the number of successful ones. Basically, it takes two years for the heat of one project to generate more of the same and you could say 2011 comedy summer this was all due to 2009’s The Hangover. This year saw Bridesmaids, The Hangover Part II, Horrible Bosses, Bad Teacher, Friends With Benefits, The Change Up and 30 Minutes or Less. And in that you can see that the start launched some really successful films, but by the end of summer audiences became bored of these films. Hit overload. Horrible Bosses made over $100 Million and did so because of a great premise. Three guys (Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudekis) hate the people they work for (Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell) and so they plot to kill them. Our review of the Blu-ray release of Horrible Bosses follows after the jump.
Nick Hendricks (Bateman) works for Dave Harken (Spacey) and has been busting his butt in the hopes of a big promotion. When the announcement comes, Harken takes the job for himself, and tells Nick that he owns him. Dale Arbus (Day) got busted peeing in a park at night – he’s got an embarrassing rap sheet – and so he works for Dr. Julia Harris D.D.S. (Aniston) and suffers her constant sexual harassment. Kurt Buckman (Sudekis) works for the perfect boss in Jack Pellit (Donald Sutherland), but when he dies he’s stuck with his son Bobby (Farrell). And when the situations get so dire, they decide to try to murder their bosses.
At first they try to find someone online who might do it, but that leads to a dead end, so they hit a bar and meet “Motherfucker” Jones (Jamie Foxx), who becomes their “murder consultant.” His advice is to remove motive by having one friend murder the other person’s boss (like in Strangers on a Train, which comes up, as does a film that borrows from it). From there things get a little crazy as they investigate how to murder their nemeses.
Comedy is binary – you laugh or you don’t – and this has enough laughs and bits to keep it entertaining for its running time, and enough build up and incident to keep the plot moving. It starts with a great relate-able premise: most people don’t like working to begin with, and everyone’s had bad experiences with supervisors, so the movie gives its bosses demonic characteristics and goes from there. For that it’s great to see Aniston, Spacey and Farrell given license to chew scenery – you want more from Farrell especially. Spacey is in his wheelhouse (it’s similar to his turn in Swimming with Sharks), while Aniston’s character is preposterous it’s the right sort of star turn where she gets to be a sex object while also being funny and disgusting in ways that are antithetical to her Friends character.
Jason Bateman gets stuck playing the straight man and he’s great at it, so that works. He does pent up with the best of them, and he gets to be the voice of reason for the most part. Charlie Day appears to be an acquired taste – his work here won’t win him any new fans as he’s asked to be both stupid and loud. It’s what the role calls for, but if it’s your first time experiencing Day outside of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, this won’t convince you he should make more movies. And it’s weird watching Jason Sudekis craft his on-screen persona. A utility man at SNL, in movies (between this and Hall Pass) he seems to be drawn to playing pussy-hounds. Which is not what I expected, but from listening to the WTF with Marc Maron podcast with him, he gives off the sense of being the funny jock, so these parts seem to play to his strengths.
Director Seth Gordon does well by the material, but it’s a just enough movie. It played better on second pass though it was engaging the first time. But this should feel comfortable in the Comedy Central rotation, and it’s just good enough to work. But it also plays like a commercial film where everyone thought it was a good idea more so than a passion project. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s more Stripes than Ghostbusters, if you know what I mean.
Warner Brothers Blu-ray presents two cuts of the film, an extended version (106 min.) and the theatrical cut (98 min.) on separate discs. There’s also a DVD and digital copy included. The film is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 master audio. The transfer is note perfect on both cuts. The additions are basically more goofing, nothing all the important lost, but it’s worth watching for those moments and none sap the narrative drive. The supplements kick off with “My Least Favorite Career (5 min.) where the cast talk about their worst jobs, while it’s followed by “Surviving A Horrible Boss” (6 min.) which is more of the same. “Being Mean is so Much Fun” (7 min.) lets the film’s horrible bosses talk about their roles, while there’s also a section for seven deleted (mostly longer or differently cut) scenes (10 min.), and a bit on the making of the soundtrack (6 min.). All pretty fluffy, but that’s about right for a film like this.