DIRECTED BY SETH GORDON
STARRING: JASON BATEMAN, CHARLIE DAY, JASON SUDEIKIS, KEVIN SPACEY, JENNIFER ANISTON, COLIN FARRELL with DONALD SUTHERLAND and JAMIE FOXX
‘Horrible Bosses’ is one of the two largely-successful comedies (the other is ‘Bridesmaids’, which I haven’t yet had the displeasure of watching) in Hollywood over the summer, and has been branded as one of the funniest releases of the year perhaps – fairly suggestive of the present state of comedic writing in a mainstream release. A successful bout of films from the Apatow unit, not to mention the golden trio that were directed by the man himself (in ‘the 40-year-old Virgin’, ‘Knocked-Up’ and ‘Funny People’) alongside the profusely-worded ‘Superbad’ and its action equivalent in ‘the Pineapple Express’, the R-rated comedy (what a genre!) has definitely taken a downslide after a certain ‘Hangover’. Now, I’m not saying Todd Philips perpetrated the fall, but he surely did have a heavy hand in it, what with ‘Part II’ returning stout in spite of overused premise and deliberated repulsiveness.
The verdict is written and it clearly states that it’s not as much about substance as it’s about the raunchiness of the same. A clear example being Jennifer Aniston, who seems to have decided there’s no point being ‘the Good Girl’ anymore. And no, her Julia is far from miscast as Aniston unleashes an alter-ego in flesh and fiery-hot blood, coming to be a shocker with the effortlessness in which she essays her role – the headliner in this act, she’s a revelation. Kevin Spacey plays Dave Harken, dictator of his own territory having to cope with the rest of the world, the actor being a snug fit in his own mould. Donald Sutherland appears in a rather pointless (as it’s written to be) cameo while Colin Farrell plays his wasteful son Bobby, a role physically reminiscent of ‘Tropic Thunder’ (read Tom Cruise minus the excess flesh). Plus, we have as central performers our musketeers in the Jasons (Bateman and Sudeikis) and Charlie Day, with Jamie Foxx shining the brightest both in character and rendition of his Dean ‘mother-******’ Jones, the highest point on the film’s hilarity curve, one that lays fairly low against intention.
So we have a galaxy of stars cast in roles they’re best-fit to play in an excellent premise that could be championed with the right kind of ambition. With that in place, what could possibly go wrong?
Everything else. The script is ill-motivated, quite possibly in wrong hands, for while the actors excel with their comic timing, the film barely takes off – it’s a runway-length humour trip without a whiff of fresh air; a timid rendition of an outrageous concept. In a list of comedies that turn futile due to excessiveness, here is one that suffers a distinctive lack of ambition – for once in a comedy, I wanted more. It would have been a whole different story had the trio returned to their respective jobs under their respective bosses come Monday, but where there’s a split between presence and absence, the transition lacked emphasis. There’s not much inventiveness and impact where there’s ability. And to top it all, Jennifer Aniston takes her boldness from ‘the Break-up’ and shoves it under a lab-coat! So, instead of coughing blasphemy, we’re found to crave for a ‘Closer’ look.
In a new kind of low for an R-rated comedy, ‘Horrible Bosses’ trades its suggestiveness for a certain disrespect – it reaches a point where even the swearing turns unnatural with schoolboy desperation. And in the end, I felt like how Dean Jones might have felt, watching from outside of a glass window on a sunny day, hunting for the elusive quirk beyond the glare. I still didn’t get any, unfortunately.