Good workplace comedies tend to be hard to come-by. Office Space stands as a personal favorite, mainly because it takes the workplace and infuses it with a sort of rebellious edge while maintaining the integrity of the setting in the first place. I sense that Horrible Bosses’ writers Michael Markowitz, John Daley & Jonathan Goldstein attempted to update the Mike Judge film by infusing it with a particular gimmick –emphasizing the plight of the worker as they stand against their tyrannical overlords. It’s certainly a relatable concept (living it at the moment), but the method in which our three screenwriters broach the subject, and their inability to really flesh out the concept entirely, makes Horrible Bosses come across as a bit too neutered for its own (comedic) good.
Horrible Bosses’ premise is outlined clearly from the onset, and for that, I appreciate the film’s intent to push things forward right off the bat. The brisk pacing of the opening act makes for something incredibly fluid and somewhat inspiring. It may lack depth, but it makes up for that with clarity and an interesting sense of humor. The set of bosses that the three central characters are haunted by are interesting characters; they fulfill their obligation of playing jack-ass types.
But that’s just it. They’re types, and no matter how funny they may be, they never really exceed this notion of being a type. It would work if the three protagonists, Jason Bateman , Charlie Day, or Jason Sudeikis, weren’t playing into a type just as much as their bosses are. These characters are interesting from the onset, but eventually, their welcome is exhausted. Charlie Day’s raving or Jason Sueikis’ ladies man act can only be played upon so many times before the novelty wears thin. And that’s specifically what we see in Horrible Bosses – a sense of repetitiveness that numbs original ideas.
I’m a bit surprised that people prefer Horrible Bosses to the other R-rated comedy of the summer, Bridesmaids. While Bridesmaids has its flaws, it had so many interesting ideas contained within particular scenes – toasting at the engagement party, things going awry while dress shopping, the plane ride, etc. Horrible Bosses has its fair share of interesting moments – in particular, I found the first few scenes with Jamie Foxx as the murder consultant to be hilarious. But as we revisit his character , the magic begins to fade; when his use as a character, and the racial identifiers that make his character who he is, are exhausted he’s simply not as funny. It’s a rinse and repeat process that really exposes the film in its final act and therein makes for an incredibly uneven picture.