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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Horrible Bosses (Release Date: 7-8-2011)

        The insufferably terrible boss. We've all had One. They undermine our efforts, refuse to notice our hard work, and are just plain a drag to operate under. I've had a few in my day, and while I dislike being hassled and chastised as much as the next guy, I've never encountered anything quite like the leaders of Horrible Bosses, and I have to predict that you haven't either. Three largely normal guys (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day) come into the office day in and day out only to be met by ferocious harassment. Bateman must contend with a manipulative, power-drunk Kevin Spacey, Sudeikis is saddled with an unfeeling coke-head in the form of Colin Farrell, and poor Day, who wants nothing more than to be loyal to his fiance, toils under a constant barrage of hyper-agressive come-ons by Jennifer Aniston. The friends are out of options: They hate their environment, but they're not about to go out and face the harsh economy. After thinking about it for about Two minutes and discovering no other options, the Three decide that the only logical thing to do is hatch a plan to kill their employers.

        It's a juicy set-up: A problem that nearly all of us have personal experience with, seen through the lens of both comedy and wish-fulfillment, played by some big-name stars. And while there's no denying that Horrible Bosses has it's moments, there are a few issues that I have with it that I simply cannot get over. The Three leads, obviously and intentionally dwarfed by their bosses in terms of star-power, are blatantly designed to be comparable to The Hangover's Wolfpack, Bateman taking up the nervous conscious originally given life by Ed Helms, Sudeikis slotting in as Bradley Cooper's reckless ladies man, and Day subbing in as the goofball in place of Zach Galifianakis. And that all goes without mentioning that Bosses' gross-out, what-will-they-do-next? sense of humor is perfectly in line with its predecessor. The leads aren't half bad in the parts, and there are occasions where their comedic chemistry really hits a stride, but the film's adherence to formula, not unlike The Hangover Part II, causes the whole thing to feel like diet-Hangover.

        Which is a shame, because the rest of the cast brings their A-game to some truly outlandish and over-the-top performances. Spacey is both great and exactly what you expected him to be, once again riffing on the evil corporate monster that he's played with through-out the years. Farrell makes a big impression in minimal screen time, a smarmy and deplorable lout who makes no bones about it. And Aniston manages to squeeze genuine laughs from a role that seems largely designed to get her in her underwear. Sure, there are charms to Horrible Bosses, Jamie Foxx's ridiculous supporting role among them, but for me anyways, the movie just doesn't quite come to life. There's a feeling of, 'been-there, done-that,' hovering over every frame of the thing, causing even the inspired moments feel cribbed from another movie altogether. I know many who have liked and will like this One more than I do, and more power to them. I want to like it, to give it a good write-up for the things that it did well, but in the end, I just didn't laugh as much as I was hoping.

Grade: C

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