Dark comedy involves a fine balance between being funny and being morbid. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb successfully managed this task with its satire of the Cold-War nuclear scare. But Horrible Bosses is one film that doesn’t really make the cut.
The film follows three friends, Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day), who are fed up with their respective bosses, David (Kevin Spacey), Bobby (Colin Farrell) and Julia (Jennifer Aniston). The trio enlists the help of Dean MF Jones (Jamie Foxx) to help them murder their self-serving bosses but a series of unfortunate events turn the plan on its head. The premise, which could have provided comic gold, is sadly wasted with unfunny jokes, most of which centre on racism and stereotypes. The three leads, Bateman, Day and Sudeikis have little chemistry and as the film putters on, that too is slowly lost. For example, when the trio visits the most dangerous bar in the city, all the patrons are black. It is ridiculous how the film constantly relies on clichés, cheap and easy laughs, preferring to be vulgar rather than funny. Horrible Bosses is barely saved by the hilarious antics of Jamie Foxx, who shines in his relativity small role as a murder consultant, Colin Ferrell’s hideous comb-over and ridiculous accent and Jennifer Aniston, who finally leaves behind the girl-next-door stereotype that she was holding onto for dear life since “Friends” ended.
Bringing up the rear is a brilliant ensemble cameo cast which helps the movie along, with Ioan Gruffudd (Mr Fantastic from The Fantastic Four), as a male prostitute, PJ Byrne as Kenny Sommerfeld, a former investment manager, now down on his luck and willing to do anything to pay off his bar tab and Bob Newhart as Comnidyne CEO Louis Sherman, who is not the kindly old man he appears to be.
All in all, the film is raunchy enough to be appealing to younger audiences but it might not appeal to a wider audience.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 16th, 2011.