Thursday, June 7, 2012

Stoogey but Successful: Horrible Bosses


Horrible Bosses is a film with universal appeal. Everyone has had an unpleasant boss at least once in their lifetimes, and seeing others onscreen deal with something familiar, even if it's uncomfortable, can be cathartic. And almost everyone out there will appreciate the film's focus, that age-old act of sticking it to The Man. But most people will enjoy this picture because of the reassuring nature that comes from seeing three grown men bumble around ridiculously for ninety minutes--the viewer walks out of the theater reveling in a sense of triumph (hell, at least I'm not that stupid) and fondness (those guys were idiots but they were damned funny).
Directed by Seth Gordon (The King of Kong) and written by Michael Markowitz and John Francis Daley, Horrible Bosses is the story of three friends who want to knock off their respective employers. Nick (Jason Bateman) lost out on a promotion he'd been counting on; Dale (Charlie Day) is being sexually harassed, and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) has to take orders from his former boss's cocaine-addicted son. Each of the men genuinely enjoys his work, but the bosses make day to day life unnecessarily miserable. The solution? Would-be assassin/Murder Consultant, Mother F-er Jones (Jamie Foxx), theirs for the asking for $5k.
As you could probably guess, things don't go well. There's a lot of cursing, a lot of yuppie banter, and Kurt is mostly a perv, but through it all you get the overwhelming feeling that you're watching the Gen-X version of The Three Stooges, and it works. If you can drop the ideology and laugh (as withBridesmaids), you will. A lot. My theater (AMC Southdale 16) was literally rolling through the entire film and ended it with applause and cheers, which was fun.


Together with the crude humor and constant verbal sparring going on between characters, the film does physical comedy well, too. Jumping cats, bad kung-fu, crazed sifting of cocaine, implied sexual acts with food props, and rear-end humor inside the bosses' domains are all good for chuckles, but the best scene, by far, was the scene shown in the parking lot where, armed with rat poison and peanuts, the three men attempt to drive away in their own vehicles but only end up boxing each other in, nearly colliding, and going in circles. It's not just funny but indicative of the entire vibe of the film and its characters; they drive their cars the way they live their lives and make their plans: thoughtlessly, ridiculously, and like little men-children. 
Other elements of the production that added a lot to the film's overall success and flow were the musical selections and their placements. The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" was an undeniably perfect accompaniment for Nick's (imagined) attack on his boss (Kevin Spacey) just as The Heavy's "How You Like Me Now?" was a great companion for the scenes depicting the planning of the murders. More goodness: white block description titles of each horrible boss and slow motion shot of the three guys rounding the corner as they're picking up the supplies at the store? Nicely, nicely done. This was a very well-made well thought-out comedy, and one the players clearly enjoyed making (make sure you stay for the end credits!). 

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