Horrible Bosses: Blogger movie review(Read article summary)
'Horrible Bosses' is amusing and funny, but falls short of the movie it obviously parallels, 'The Hangover.' The ragtag group of friends in 'Horrible Bosses' can't compare to Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis in 'The Hangover.'
New Line Cinema/Newscom
We are now inhabiting the post-âHangoverâ world, and in case you needed any proof that studios are looking to locate the success gene in the hit comedyâs DNA, I submit âHorrible Bossesâ as evidence. It really shouldnât surprise you; itâs a page straight from the television networksâ playbook. As soon as Fox premiered âAmerican Idol,â every network wanted a singing competition. After ABC had a big hit with âDancing with the Stars,â every network suddenly had a dancing show. We live in a culture of thinly veiled rip-offs that barely bother to disguise their ever-so-slight variations from the original success story.
The good news for Seth Gordon and the âHorrible Bossesâ team is that, at least at this moment, I still find the formula amusing and funny. The next movie shamelessly pressed from the âHangoverâ mold, however, will probably not be in my good graces, so at least they got the timing right on this one. But the fact that some movie other than the sequel has tried using a similar blueprint for high cash and laugh returns signals a foreboding era in comedy. (Then again, I said the same thing last summer about âIron Man 2â being the first of many âThe Dark Knightâ rip-offs, and nothing seems to have materialized there.)
The film invites these comparisons by using what may be the most recognizable aspect of âThe Hangoverâ for laughs â the Wolfpack. From now on, any comedy that has a ragtag alliance of three thirtysomething guys will inevitably have to be measured against the ridiculously high standard set by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis. Unfair? Probably. Justified? Definitely.
However, itâs not just the presence of three funnymen that makes the parallel clear; itâs that there is so little separating the âHorrible Bossesâ guys from the Wolfpack. Jason Sudeikis is Bradley Cooperâs tail-chasing pretty boy, although he cedes de facto leadership of the bunch to Jason Bateman, who plays Ed Helmsâ level-headed idea man who happens to be the only person in his friend group with a brain located in his head. And no raunchy comedy is complete with out Zach Galfianakisâ quirky bearded buffoon, here played by fresh face Charlie Day, the chipmunk-sounding dimwit with a thing for âAngry Birdsâ and the Ting Tings.
âHorrible Bossesâ also uses the high concept like âThe Hangoverâ to stretch the boundaries of what we would normally consider plausible, changing the question from âWhat if three guys were so drunk that they forgot a whole night?â to âWhat if three guys were so fed up with their bosses that they decided to murder them?â The bosses are pretty bad, ranging from blackmailing sleazes (Kevin Spacey) to nymphomaniacs (Jennifer Aniston) and even potbellied balding coke fiends (Colin Farrell). In a quest for psychological satisfaction in the workplace that puts Johnny Paycheck to shame, their rage and frustration leads them to sketchy bars, a misleading criminal (Jamie Foxx), and measures so desperate that they hardly make sense â unless, of course, youâre in an R-rated comedy.
But judging the film purely by its own merit, not against that of âThe Hangover,â itâs decent fun and laughter with a few unexpected twists breaking the banality a tad. The situations, easily the filmâs strongest aspect, are corny but still fairly funny. There arenât any good quotables, and Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day donât seem to feed off each other for humor quite as well as they should. In this Wolfpack, the sum is less than the total of its parts. Itâs by no means the worst of the dirty comedies; on the other hand, itâs not among the best.
As for the sympathy for the down-and-out unemployed American worker that has been featured in post-recessionary cinema from âUp in the Airâ to âLarry Crowne,â donât expect to get any from âHorrible Bosses.â Despite the fact that millions of Americans would be happy to have a job, even if their boss is a psycho or a slavedriver, it kicks the bruised man while heâs down. The movie dangles a out-of-work Lehman Brothers worker like comedic bait for the audience, showing him as so desperate that he will perform lewd sexual acts on old high school pals in the bathroom. While Iâm the first person to stand up for the rights of comedians to make appropriate satire (in other words, not Tracy Morganâs recent hateful rant), this little bit just feels in poor taste. However, poor taste seems to be a specialty in R-rated comedy nowadays. âHorrible Bossesâ is definitely irreverent, but itâs a dish that tastes best to those who have ever had to work under Satan âŚ or who happened to have not seen âThe Hangover.â B-
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