July 9, 2011 by Vinnie Leduc
Fresh off the burning heels and smoking wheels of Transformers, it’s another summer crowdpleaser you’ll want to leave work for. Director Seth Gordon, who made his debut with the excellent documentary The King of Kong (one of the best docs of all time, so add it to your Netflix queue if you haven’t seen it), slumped in his sophomore effort, the ho-hum romcom Four Christmases, but has recovered impressively with Horrible Bosses, a revenge comedy with an outstanding cast.
Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, and Colin Farrell comprise the titular trio of abusive authorities, but Horrible Bosses focuses on their victimized bitches, portrayed respectively by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis. They’re at the top of their game and would be scene-stealers in almost any other movie. However, the superb chemistry displayed by the six actors consistently throughout the film makes it difficult to select just one stand-out.
I’ll start with the most notable marketing draw: Jennifer Aniston. She doesn’t receive as much screentime as the ads deceptively convey, but she boldly surpasses her previous turn in the enjoyable Just Go With It by channeling her best Bad Teacher and turning in a devilishly salacious supporting performance. Like the Cameron Diaz flick, Horrible Bosses refreshingly shies away from shock humor. Instead, audiences are fed a balanced mix of situational comedy, visual gags, and seamless dialogue, both written and improvisational.
As he explores the transition from the small screen to the silver one, SNL cast member Jason Sudeikis continues to lay down solid career tracks in Horrible Bosses and complements his previous role in Hall Pass well. Jason Bateman is also good as usual, especially when sharing scenes with Kevin Spacey, who cushions his long list of memorable antagonists. Colin Farrell’s performance, which seemed to be an exaggerated and/or weird alternate version of his real-life self, felt like an Entourage guest spot.
But the biggest scene-stealer of them all is actually the smallest actor on set. In his first major film starring role, Charlie Day transplants his screechy mile-a-minute zaniness from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and into Horrible Bosses with near-perfect execution. And like the FX show, Horrible Bosses includes wonderful chaos branching from characters simultaneously and continuously talking over one another. It’s just one of the many things that works here. Horrible Bosses gets 4.5 out of 5 stars or A- or Excellent.