By Helen Cox
Have you ever had a boss that you’ve truly hated? A boss that makes you want to decapitate them every time they speak to you? No? Just me then?
Horrible Bosses (2011) relies heavily on the assumption that most people, at some point, have been at the mercy of a middle-management monster who has made their life nothing short of miserable. Fear not though folks as Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) and Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) understand just how you feel as they are respectively tortured by a psychopath (Kevin Spacey), a nympho (Jennifer Aniston) and an unashamed, under-sexed idiot (Colin Farrell). The only logical thing to do under these circumstances, of course, is to kill them…with me so far?
Director Seth Gordon, whose previous directing experience includes The Office, has produced an above-average comedy that many audience members will easily relate to. Perhaps not so much to the sequences in which the terrible trio wind up tripping on a box full o’ cocaine but certainly to the moments in which the titular horrible bosses belittle their star employees and more than probably the deep, dark resentment our protagonists feel at the thought of being helplessly trapped in a confidence-shattering situation for the rest of their natural lives.
The key triumphs of this film are firstly the repartee between Bateman, Day and Sudeikis. Although at times they, and the script, are very silly there is a clear bond between the three of them that pushes the narrative onward and the banter, though not always completely coherent, is, in places, enough to make even cynical cinema goers let out a chuckle or two. The supporting performances of Spacey, Farrell and Aniston are also delectably entertaining, particularly in the case of Aniston after the disposable debacles of The Switch (2010) – also starring Jason Bateman – and The Bounty Hunter (2010). But the less said about those the better eh?
Furthermore, after the glut of Mumblecore-esque / oh-no-my-life-is-over-because-university-is / can’t-get-a-job-in-my-field pictures, it is most refreshing to go to the cinema and watch a film about people facing real problems. I realise that sentence will infuriate a great many recent university-leavers but, kids, really – don’t worry about it. I went through the same existential dilemma after my university years and although you never get over the angst fully you learn to dull the pain with alcohol, nicotine and prescribed medication as required. What you should be really worried about, as this film explores, is what happens when you do finally get a job and you have to answer to somebody else every day for the rest of your life. That’s life’s true terror.
On a final note look out for an amusing cameo appearance by Jamie Foxx who plays the Hit Man at hand and don’t leave the cinema before seeing the outtakes that roll in the credits. To say they’re the best part of the film would be massively unfair but watching Colin Farrell’s numerous takes on comedy lines and Spacey constantly cracking up Bateman is a worthwhile added bonus.