Horrible Bosses is a funny enough film, but one that should have been even funnier given the subject matter and the talent involved. It inevitably comes across as a poor man's The Hangover meets a male version of Nine to Five with Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day as plug 'n' play versions of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zack Galifianakis.
Bosses is about three friends -- played by Bateman, Sudeikis and Day -- who make a plan to kill their respective bosses, all of whom are making our three leads' lives miserable. It's an all-star group of players that includes Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Aniston as the nightmare bosses and Jamie Foxx as a "murder consultant."
What the film has in its favor is high energy and great chemistry from its cast, all of whom bring everything they've got to the table. It's just a shame that there isn't more for everyone to do. The story doesn't go for broke and it should, especially when you have fearless actors that seem willing to go there.
Blame a screenplay with caricature-like characters and a director (Seth Gordon) who is more used to making comedy in a half-hour format on shows like Modern Family, Community, The Office and Parks and Recreation. Things come across as too shticky and the comedy is uneven. At times, the funny Day veers on the shrill and frantic and the aw-shucks Sudeikis vacillates between being an affable guy to having a propensity for sex that seems to appear out of nowhere, except to serve a plot point.
Hangover worked because amidst the chaos, there was a lot of heart, something Bosses lacks. Here, we never quite learn to care about our three leads. We know their lives at work are miserable, but we know nothing about their home lives, other than Day's Dale is engaged to be married. But Bateman's and Sudeikis' characters have no home life, no family or significant others, which seems bizarre, considering their ages and jobs.
The real gems here are the bosses. Spacey channels some of his Swimming with Sharks persona; Colin Farrell pulls a Tom-Cruise-in-Tropic Thunder and completely lets go in way moviegoers have never seen; Aniston gets points for showing a willingness to get a bit dirtier -- groping her co-stars and having a potty mouth. Plus the sheer fact that her hair is finally different is enough to yell "Hooray!"
It's too bad the bosses don't get more screen time. Colin Farrell as Sudeikis' boss, Bobby Pellit, is the most entertaining to watch. Tapping in to a little seen comedic side, he lets go completely as a coked-out, whore-loving, comb-over wearing asshole. Watching him makes you wish there was some sort of prequel centering on Pellit and his father (played by Donald Sutherland) that lets us know how this maniacal, nunchuck-weilding asshole came to be.
After the massive, record breaking success of The Hangover two summers ago, it seems like every studio decided to get in on the R-rated comedy action, and this is the summer they've all come to fruition. Universal found a hit in their "female" Hangover with Bridesmaids, which is now the top R-rated female comedy of all time. Sony has a hit in Bad Teacher and Warner Bros.' The Hangover 2 is the biggest global R-rated comedy, surpassing its predecessor.
Now New Line Cinema -- whose films are distributed by Warners -- is attempting to grab a piece of that pie. Although the attempt is entertaining enough, it's ultimately not as satisfying as it should be.
Follow Zorianna Kit on Twitter: www.twitter.com/zoriannakit