Saturday, August 6, 2011

Horrible Bosses

"That 'Strangers on a Train' Shit"
or
"It's Like a Douchebag Museum...!"

Office politics can get mean.  Office politics can make you crazy.  Office politics can get very, very messy (now, we have a movie that has all three!)However, I don't know many offices (outside the Post Office) where the politics can make you homicidal.  Not even Congress.But that's the situation in Horrible Bosses, which given the tough economic times, the high unemployment rates, and the relative lack of power suffered by your disappearing middle class, almost seems plausible.  Documentarian/director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters) has made a film that follows three rather hapless worker-buddies (who seem competent at their jobs, the events of the movie notwithstanding), as their job situations drive them to considering murdering their higher-ups.  All three are unmarried (although Charlie Day's dental technician is engaged), so we're talking some arrested development here, especially considering Jason Bateman is one of the three and SNL's Jason Sudeikis is the third).  Bateman's Nick is up for a promotion, so he's been tolerating some abusive grooming tactics by his boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey, recycling his role in Swimming with Sharks), but doesn't get it when Harken takes the position himself; Sudeikis' Kurt is also expecting advancement as an account manager at the chemical factory run by Donald Sutherland, when Sutherland's character dies, and the company is taken over by his "Dipshit Cokehead Son", played by Colin Farrell (in a nicely over-the-top skeezeball performance, which seems to have been cut a bit—he's not in it much; And Day's Dale is a tech for an extremely aggressive cougar of a dentist (Jennifer Aniston, bless her) who is determined to seduce him (for some reason), and is incapable of anything more complicated than single entendres.

They decide that, rather than "Best Practices," going to "H.R.," or finding another situation, they'll merely cut through the red tape and go straight to the yellow—they're going to kill their bosses.  So much for negotiating skills and being a "people person."  This is what commiserating in a bar can lead to.  The next bar leads them to Dean Jones (Jamie Foxx—playing it straight and dead-pan), an ex-con who goes by a common vulgarism, because "Dean Jones" reminds too many people of The Love BugNo wonder they want this guy to plan the executions.  Jones' suggestion is that each of the guys does the murder of someone else's boss (and dutifully, Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train is mentioned, as is Throw Momma From the Train, which is the red-headed step-child of the Hitchcock film...which reminds me that today is recycling day).

This cannot go well, and despite some laugh-out-loud moments, it does not, succumbing to "easy answers," and a "Deus ex machina."  God's gotta be watching these guys, because they're so incompetent, they can't do anything right*...which leads us back to the recycling bin.  Rummaging through, it is not too hard to see that this is The Hangover which itself is a new version of a Three Stooges movie, especially in the psychology of the three leads.  Bateman plays Moe the strong one, Day is Larry the weak whiner, and Sudeikis is so meat-headed he can only be Curly.  And while no eye-poking or face-slapping occurs, you just know that the insults and slow burns between the three are the passive-aggressive equivalent.  And a lot less fun.

There are good moments—Aniston and Farrell are clearly having fun playing broad—and one of my favorite actor-characters shows up at the end (a little too briefly), but all in all, the face I wanted to slap was my own.

Though not completely horrible, Horrible Bosses is a Cable Watcher.

* This shoots down the premise of the movie: if these guys are so ham-fisted doing...everything...maybe they don't deserve the promotions they think they've been cheated out of. 

2 comments:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Solid review, after a few weeks I'm moved to agree with you that it's not completely horrible but the silliness of it annoyed me much more than I expected to.
Like you, I think the film suffers ultimately because the leads come off as idiotic buffoons, that are difficult to root for...or even care about.

Yojimbo_5 said...

For me, it hinged on that the three were looking for career advancement...and might even get it...if these managers/supervisors weren't around. But, they're such buffoons that 1) you don't think they DESERVE advancement whether the bosses are there or not and 2) if that's true, why kill the bosses? Makes me crazy.

If they were going to do a "Stooges"-style movie, there should have been more slapstick.