OK, here’s how it happened. I wanted to get a DVD to keep my kids entertained. We went to Sainsburys and scoured the DVD aisle. Everything I suggested met with some disapproval: Lindsey didn’t want the horror movies, Adam and I didn’t want the chick flicks, they both wanted something funny. So Adam picked up Horrible Bosses. I hadn’t heard of it but the great Kevin Spacey was plastered on the box so I shrugged my shoulders and threw it into the trolley.
Surely can’t do any harm, I thought. Must be half-way decent if Spacey wants to be involved, and, apparently, Jennifer Aniston and Jamie Foxxxxx (I may have miscounted the X’s there.) Hollywood thinks that’s how we think – we buy because of the stars first and the movie second. Usually I don’t; I want to be sold on the movie and care only that it’s well scripted, directed and acted, no matter who is acting, directing and scripting – the problem is the attitude of studio bosses who only want to make a quick buck, which is probably why most of the films I truly love are now in the vintage category. However, on this occasion I went with it for an easy life!
But there we are, we had Horrible Bosses so we got on with it. Adam had seen it before and liked it because, well, it’s puerile teenage humour. This is how comedy is these days – not subtle, not sophisticated, but foul-mouthed, very silly and as gross-out as the certificate will permit. Seems to be lots of it about since the American Pie franchise and Something About Mary – dozens have come and gone with scripting in the same vane: grown actors talking like teenagers, appropriate since most of the audience will be teenagers, and also that most real grown-ups will rate it as nonsense and not what we should be watching.
Here’s the flipside: for all the nonsense there are some real laughs in Horrible Bosses, Some are funny lines, some are good situations – like stabbing Spacey in the chest with an epi-pen. Trouble is I can’t remember the vast majority of them now, and I only watched the DVD last night; the generally unfunny slapstick knockabout stuff got in the way. Chewing gum for the eyes, indeed, but Adam loved it. Subtlety may not be what this target audience prefers, but the film would have gained a lot from being toned down and allowing the wittier lines to shine through. I could have done with a few goofball cringes less and a few more of the genuinely funny lines, personally.
The one thing we could all agree on is that it is a very fair premise for a movie. We’ve all had horrible bosses, people we would willingly have murdered under extreme circumstances but probably never did. Granted none were quite like the psycho control freaks and weirdos here, but then this is a movie, isn’t it? Real life’s not like that… is it?
The heroes are modern day Three Stooges, and ultimately not sympathetic – Jasons Bateman and Sudeikis supporting the loon Charlie Day (all white and pretty, you notice.) The baddies are much more interesting, notably Spacey’s gloriously vain, egotistical bully, and Aniston’s creepy nympho dentist, both of whom are mesmerising on screen and steal every scene without any apparent effort.
Sadly the same can’t be said of Colin Farrell‘s OTT coke-head son of nice boss Donald Sutherland (they sure did get some distinguished actors to sign on the dotted line for this escapade), but then he appears to have made a living out of doing these films – it’s obviously getting to him to the point where he is sending himself up. Would that he did more films of the quality of In Bruges, for example, demonstrating he can act up when required so to do.
For what it’s worth, this is a black comic reworking of the Strangers on a Train principle whereby the three stooges aim to kill one another’s vile and loathsome bosses, but it does not just nod to its roots – it mentions the source openly. I wonder how many teens went on to watch the Hitchcock classic as a result of this movie? Maybe that is the best thing to come out of it!
The three screw up everything they touch, with a little help from Foxx’s hard Motherfucker (yes, that is the character’s name), a criminal who turns out to have done time for video piracy, but are saved by a car navigator assistant called Gregory (actually an Indian guy in a call centre who thinks Gregory is more acceptable than a real name Americans can’t pronounce), so a happy ending can follow as surely as night follows day – this being Hollywood. Just don’t do any of this shit at home, OK? Snicker snicker.
Now, where’s Some Like It Hot… Adam thinks nobody likes it and it’s just not funny!!