Many of us were intrigued when we first saw the trailer for Horrible Bosses. However, the story itself is nothing new, something the film itself even pointed out with references to Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and the Billy Crystal film, Throw Momma from the Train. Combine that with a group reminiscent of The Hangover’s Rat Pack and some of the most outrageous bosses in existence, and you have the formula for a successful comedy.
The basic story follows three men, Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) who each are having problems with their bosses, an egomaniacal company president (Kevin Spacey), a nymphomaniacal dentist (Jennifer Aniston) and a coke-addicted heir to a chemical company (Colin Farrell). Fed up with the bosses, they decided to improve their lives by ending theirs.
This film not only satirizes the murder plot comedy, but also satirizes various things we deal with in our daily lives. One of the most notable satires comes from a jab at both OnStar and the outsourcing of jobs to India in a minor subplot that pays off in the end.
The pacing of this film doesn’t follow the normal three-act structure common in most American films, but instead follows a more episodic structure. This mostly comes from the fact that there are three stories playing out at once; since the separate bosses seldom interact with one another throughout the story, save for one critical scene.
One thing that I noticed is that the film wasn’t limited to one type of humor, but had a unique blend of crude humor, intelligent humor and the more subtle conversational humor. In addition to that, this also held a constant comic flow that wasn’t interrupted by an out of place dramatic sequence.
This film also seemed to hybridize different styles of cinematic storytelling. It opens and closes with an Office-styled opening with narrations from the three main characters and then it takes shots and setups from murder mystery films that served as inspiration. It even takes on a Tarantino-esque quality with the more relaxed banter between characters.
The performances in this film were also well done, particularly the performances from the bosses. Colin Farrell’s performance as an insane drug addict feels incredibly natural that it seems almost improvised. The same thing can be said about Aniston performance, given that the character is one you rarely see women play. The performance of the main characters also feels natural, giving off the same improvised feel. My favorite performance would have to have come from Charlie Day, who feels like the embodiment of the term, nerd rage.
Overall, this film is the kind of comedy that even the more prudish moviegoer will find enjoyment. I don’t normally enjoy adult comedies due to the common over-saturation of crude humor, but as I mentioned earlier, this film features a nice blend of both crude and intellectual humor. The performances are enjoyable and make the ticket prices worth it for that alone. On my rating scale, this film gets a 5/5 – an enjoyable, one-of-a-kind, adult comedy.